So, sports leagues with teams in Georgia should go back to the future, emulating the time when they stopped giving cities and states huge events (Super Bowls, Final Fours and league All-Star Games) that stimulate the local economy, even before political wokeness became a thing.
As for the bill’s lowlights, these two measures standout:
- New identification requirements for absentee voters, despite reports that more than 200,000 Georgia voters lack a driver’s license or state ID number. This measure will push voters to scramble to show proof of identity through other means like a utility bill, bank statement, passport, among others. Nationally, 25% of Black Americans lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of Whites.
- Under the new law, giving food and water to those waiting in line to vote is now illegal. This may discourage Black Georgia voters, who historically wait in longer lines than non-minorities and often in hot weather.
As activists and leaders grapple with these actions, industries and groups including the sports world can join the fight.
Atlanta likes getting sports stuff.
Just stop giving Atlanta sports stuff.
Why Atlanta? Well, Georgia Republican lawmakers know the state’s whole economy begins and ends with Atlanta, home of the state capital and the main target of these voter suppression laws since voters in predominately Black counties around Atlanta, such as Fulton and Clayton, did much to elect Georgia’s first Black senator (Raphael Warnock) and first Jewish senator (Jon Ossoff).
We can start by stripping Atlanta of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, which is set to take place in the city in July.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark told the Boston Globe Friday that he “would look forward” to discussing moving the game from Georgia. Sound familiar? In 2017, the National Basketball Association moved its own All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, in response to the state’s HB2 law. The “bathroom bill” required people at a government-run facility to use bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificate, if the rooms in question were multiple-occupancy, and drew criticism for its discriminatory nature against the LGBTQ community. The law was repealed later that year.
Not only that, but if Georgia keeps its new voting law, the National Black Justice Coalition urged the Professional Golf Association Tour to keep major tournaments out of Georgia, starting with next week’s Masters Tournament.
We need more of that.
In addition, Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Republican lawmakers should consider this: In February 2020, Miami hosted the last Super Bowl with full attendance before the Covid pandemic and, according to that area’s Super Bowl Host Committee, the event had an overall $571.9 million impact on South Florida.
So, if you’re, say, Atlanta, you don’t want to lose a Super Bowl, not after hosting three of them and wanting a bunch more. You also don’t want to lose the 16 metro Atlanta-based companies in the US Fortune 500 list. You don’t want to lose conventions, trade shows, major film production companies and anything else of national or international stature, especially if the leaders of those industries say they’ll refuse to enter your city or state limits while you continue to embrace racism.
According to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city had nearly 47 million visitors in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, and that translated into a $16 billion hospitality industry for the area.
Are you listening, Georgia Republican leaders?
Until you and your supporters realize the 19th century was so two centuries ago, everybody, from Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola in corporate America to the headquarters of the National Football League and Major League Soccer around various sports leagues, should boycott the state of Georgia in general — and Atlanta in particular.
Give them nothing.
Treat Atlanta and Georgia the way the NFL did Arizona during the early 1990s, when the league yanked a Super Bowl away from the state after its citizens voted not to support the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, even though it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Treat Georgia like the National Collegiate Athletic Association does to all of those states refusing to remove anything resembling the Confederate flag as their state flag, like they did last year in Mississippi.
Treat Atlanta and Georgia like they haven’t a clue until the overwhelming majority of politicians and voters for both of those places realize Confederate leader Robert E. Lee has been dead for 151 years and policies like the ones they’ve enacted don’t have a place in our society.
This bill is more like Georgia leading the way for more than 40 other states to do what this one just did.
That is, Georgia Republican politicians gave the blueprint for their counterparts elsewhere to spit on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by disenfranchising Black voters.
Here’s how to change all of this in a hurry: Force those Republican Georgia politicians and their supporters to give you Robert E. Lee’s death certificate, and then you can start giving them sports and everything else again.