The Good Press - Issue #51: Recoil

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The Good Press

April 7 · Issue #51 · View online

A newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind


Sports leagues continue to find themselves at the center of flashpoint political discourse, which says a lot more about the state of politics than anything else.

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find this issue to be worth your time.
Comments and reader suggestions are always welcome. You can reply to the newsletter right from your email if you would like to share your feedback.
Atlanta's newly patched over sleeve, with my own enhancement for comparative purposes (Original photo: AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson; All-Star logo patch: MLB)
Atlanta's newly patched over sleeve, with my own enhancement for comparative purposes (Original photo: AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson; All-Star logo patch: MLB)
Recoil
Last week, it was admittedly a baseball barrage here in The Good Press.
In the interest of keeping things fresh, I had been planning on using this week’s issue, #51, to touch on the potential political ripple effects of the movement for statehood for Washington D.C. (51, get it?). So, naturally, since I had intended to bench the baseball talk for a week, Major League Baseball found itself in the middle of one of the biggest political stories of the week!
MLB Pulls All-Star Game From Atlanta, Georgia, in Response to Voting Restrictions | The NY Times
Last week, MLB boldly announced a decision to move their July 2021 All-Star Game to Denver from its original location of Atlanta, in direct response to the state of Georgia’s recent election law overhaul, which has been rightfully decried as an outright act of undemocratic voter suppression. After Georgia voters turned out in record numbers both in the 2020 election and the Senate runoff elections in January 2021, it produced big victories for the Democratic party. In response, the Georgia state government, largely Republican-run, passed this new sweeping legislation in an attempt to wind the clock back to its slave state roots and ensure that it never happens again.
What Georgia’s Voting Law Does | The NY Times
AP Explainer: Inside Georgia's new election laws
Among the many new provisions:
  • Less time to request absentee ballots
  • Strict new identification requirements
  • Empowering the Republican-controlled state legislature to suspend county election officials (especially if they don’t like the results of the voting) and allow them to exert outsized influence over the state election board
  • And this fun provision: making it a crime to offer food and water to people waiting in long lines to vote. It’s enough to make you recoil in disgust.
Why, pray tell, is the Republican party so afraid of American democracy?
Perhaps it’s for the same reason they gerrymander their districts: because they would rather have career politicians selecting their voters rather than the fair and democratic way: having voters vote to choose their representatives.
How do you spell ‘gerrymandering is bad?’ With a font made out of preposterous districts | WaPo
In Other Words
Some sports fans may say, “leave the politics out of this and stick to sports,” but it’s myopic to pretend that there’s no overlap between politics and sports.
Are we really going to pretend that Jackie Robinson was not influential in our politics? That Hank Aaron, who will be honored during the All-Star festivities, didn’t deal with prejudice? I think Aaron would be proud of MLB’s decision.
Let’s not forget, it was the activist athletes in the WNBA that decidedly refused to “stick to sports” when a then-team owner (and then-Senator) essentially told them to “shut up and dribble” amid the summer protests.
How the activist athletes of the WNBA helped the Democrats win the Senate | The Guardian
Others in sports followed the WNBA’s lead this past summer and fall, and we saw athletes and sports leagues as major agents of change in the crucial fight for American democracy in a major way in 2020. It’s wonderful to see these young athletes realizing the power of their platform and using it for good. Standing up for what’s right and what’s just; it’s inherently political, especially when an influential major political party is hellbent on injustice.
Remember when many of these sports arenas were converted into voting sites this past fall? Who’s to say how much of an effect that had on voter turnout in many of these metropolitan areas all across the country? I imagine it had a big impact, and it was a brilliant idea by the athletes that pushed for it and the sports teams and leagues that volunteered to make it easier to vote.
Atlanta’s baseball stadium in Cobb County, Georgia, a symbol of white flight away from Atlanta, notably did not participate in those voting efforts. Now, Georgia’s voter suppression efforts will likely cost the state a ton of expected revenue, beyond just the MLB All-Star Game, and Georgia has no one to blame but themselves. This is recoil from their deeply undemocratic actions.
Baseball Joins Other Sports in Flexing Its Activist Muscles, Moving Its All-Star Game | The NY Times
Georgia sports teams and major companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines condemn Georgia's new state voting laws | WaPo
ThePlayersAlliance
We stand in support of @MLB's decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game. https://t.co/ESTh4g4bVj
As history shows us, sports leagues taking stands against political decisions is not new. Even back in the early 1990s, the NFL once moved a Super Bowl out of the state of Arizona after Arizona dragged its feet implementing MLK Day.
When Arizona lost the Super Bowl because the state didn’t recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day
With the public outcry over Georgia Republicans’ recycling of Jim Crow racism (and Republicans in other states trying to follow suit), corporate America is feeling the heat as activists and everyday citizens hold them to account.
Corporate America scrambles to get behind voting rights as public pressure continues to mount | Axios
What Georgia can learn from North Carolina about corporate backlash from legislation | Axios
“Recoil” was the word that came to mind this week because of the immediate reaction from Americans that have come out and made their voices heard, condemning the injustice of these undemocratic power grabs. This, and other flashpoint issues, reverberate and have ripple effects that recoil far and wide.
It’s precisely why sweeping political reforms are urgent and necessary for this current administration. All future elections, including next November’s midterm elections, are in grave peril if major political reforms aren’t enacted. That goes most especially for the sweeping, comprehensive legislation in the bicameral For the People Act that congressional Democrats have introduced.
Congress Must Pass the For the People Act of 2021 | Brennan Center for Justice
Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021 | Brennan Center for Justice
With the Senate split evenly at 50 Senators from each party (and no elected Republicans willing to stand for anything but culture war whining, seemingly) the margin for error could not be thinner when it comes to passing legislation. Currently, it takes 60 votes to get a bill passed in the Senate, though the quirky Senate rules allow for a simple majority vote for certain legislation. (For example, the American Rescue Plan, passed last month by a majority vote.)
I don’t want to get so bogged down in the minutiae of the rules of Congress. The heart of the matter is that even with so many other pressing issues at hand, Republicans seem to be focused primarily on disenfranchising as many Americans as they can, as opposed to actually trying to earn as many votes as they can from as many people as they can. Or perhaps, oh I don’t know, maybe passing some legislation that would actually help make Americans’ lives better?
The case for D.C. statehood, this issue’s erstwhile topic, is a compelling one.
There are 700,000 residents in Washington D.C., but D.C. doesn’t have any political representation in Congress. More Americans live in D.C. than in Vermont or Wyoming, two states with two Senators apiece, compared to D.C’s zero. Not only that, but D.C. residents also pay some of the highest taxes in the country. If only there were a catchy, rhyming mnemonic for that…
"No Taxation Without Representation"
Frankly, America is long overdue for another star (or two) on its flag. What stands out to me is that there aren’t many good arguments against potential D.C. statehood. All Americans deserve to have their voices heard. Period.
The battle against D.C. statehood is rooted in anti-Black racism | by Kyla Sommers, Washington Post
This 51-star flag represents a better and more just America (Photo: FOX 5 DC)
This 51-star flag represents a better and more just America (Photo: FOX 5 DC)
Political gridlock is always a major obstacle to progress, but with more states attempting to go Georgia’s route of blatant, in-your-face voter suppression, it’s not surprising that the recoil and retorts to the new laws have been so forceful. The groundswell of public pressure means companies who often donate to political parties all willy-nilly are now getting a lot more scrutiny.
Being able to “keep politics out” is a privilege that many Americans aren’t able to do, especially when “politics” are oppressing their inalienable rights. So the next time you hear someone complain about people sticking their nose into political waters that they “don’t belong in,” consider the source. Politics affects all of us, and you shouldn’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
Parting Thoughts
One sports story that transcends the playing field I saw this week was the scary news out of Vancouver that the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks are dealing with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks we’ve seen this entire pandemic.
More than half of Vancouver Canucks hockey players test positive for COVID-19 | ESPN
According to Emily Kaplan’s story for ESPN linked above, more than half of the players on the team have tested positive for the coronavirus, and some of them are reportedly symptomatic and in “rough shape,” as a new variant originating in Brazil has ravaged the Vancouver region in western Canada.
One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.
… “The symptoms are intense,” one agent of a Canucks player told ESPN. “It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”
It’s just another reminder that even with the United States government vaccinating upwards of four million people a day now, we are still not out of the woods yet. Please stay safe out there, get your vaccine as soon as you can, and continue to employ the same safety measures that have worked throughout the last 14 months: masks, social distancing, and hand washing.
Lastly, though no baseball fun facts and haikus this week, I want to send a special shoutout to the Mets fans who are smiling wide after the team came to terms on a decade-long pact with superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. The young man known as “Mr. Smile” will play baseball in Queens for the next 11 seasons, long enough to give millions of young fans a new favorite player.
Next week, perhaps more fun facts and haikus for the 20 teams that were not previewed in Issue #50. I certainly don’t want to leave any fanbase hanging.
For 51 straight weeks, thanks again for joining me here in The Good Press.
Till next time,
-Jon
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press - Issue #50: Baseball Fun for 2021
The Good Press - Issue #49: Rally
The Good Press - Issue #48: Spring Forward
Catch up quick: The Good Press full online archive
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