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SB 1070 and MLB’s Responsibility

I’ll be honest; I was not concerned with the immorality of Arizona’s SB 1070 before protests began popping up nationally and what was a state issue took a national audience.  Groups of concerned citizens have started to call for boycotts of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Protesters have followed the Diamondbacks to Colorado and even Chicago. MLB players and Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen have issued statements detailing their boycott of the 2011 MLB All-Star Weekend which is scheduled to be held in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks have become the Traveling SB 1070 Road Show while the Phoenix Suns are quietly protesting the law in the NBA Playoffs by wearing “Los Suns” jerseys.

*the views expressed in this post are solely mine and do not reflect the views of my employer….

There is no secret that MLB teams spend an extraordinary amount of money to develop talent in Latin American countries. There is no secret that 30% (or more) of MLB players are Latin American. So asking Major League Baseball to take a stand on this issue is not a stretch at all. The League may choose to toe the line but there is some responsibility to take a stance. On one hand, there’s the alienation of the Arizona Diamondbacks owner to consider. He is a major financial supporter of the Arizona State Republican Party. And as a MLB owner, he is afforded a bit of protection by the League.

On the other hand, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has his players to think about, players who have already banned together to speak against SB1070. How comfortable are they traveling to the state of Arizona? What does it mean for MLB’s Latin American players and their wellbeing to know that they are bringing funds into a community that has effectively legalized discrimination against them and their countrymen?

And again, he has other teams to worry about, teams that will lose revenue as a result of protests being held every time the Diamondbacks come to town. Aside from all of that, there is the social responsibility assigned to sports in general and baseball in particular.

In 1887 MLB players organized to keep African Americans out of their sport. In 1947 MLB broke the color barrier by courting Jackie Robinson into its ranks. Now in 2010 Major League Baseball stands poised to make another strong statement as it relates to discrimination. The problem is that in this case silence may speak louder than any action.