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ColorLines Magazine

SB 1070 Protestors Take a Swing at Major League Baseball

Naima Ramos-Chapman

Since SB 1070 became law in Arizona, dozens of cities and musicians
have joined a boycott against the state. The Arizona Diamondback
baseball team has also become a target since the team’s owner, Ken
Kilpatrick, is a well-known donor
to the state’s Republican party, which has backed some of SB 1070’s
most fervent supporters. Protestors are boycotting the team until MLB
commissioner Bud Selig moves the 2011 All Star game out of Phoenix.

The boycott’s brought to a life an interesting question: Are sports a legitimate site of political struggle?

Valeria Fernandez reports for New America Media that while the MLB boycott has struck out with some fans, the message is becoming clear to others.

“I think it makes no sense. Sports have nothing to do with
political discussions,” said Simon, a Latino who lives in Tucson. “It’s
fun and it’s supposed to be fun. There shouldn’t be any type of
political involvement.”

Many of his friends agree with that assessment, including his
father-in-law, who is Mexican and often travels from the city of
Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora to watch baseball games with


Some fans who are in favor of repealing the law frankly just don’t see the benefits of boycotts:

Fred Michaels and his wife, Sherry, said they were in favor of
repealing the law, calling it “a dry fascism” and “redundant” in trying
to take on the job of the federal government. Yet, Michaels believes the
effort to boycott the team is “foolish, because there are so many
companies that supported SB 1070” that it’s difficult to know which ones
were more involved.

But as chairman of the Somos America boycott committee explains in
the article, boycotts can force companies to reevaluate who they chose
to do business with, and see the connection between how profits affect
people and policy:

“The intent of the business boycott is not to punish companies by
asking our supporters to not purchase their products. It is to get
Arizona business to realize that their support of these individuals for
even ‘strictly business’ purposes is creating conditions of hate, fear,
and violence against Latinos and immigrants in Arizona,” said former
Arizona Senator Alfredo Gutierrez, chairman of the Somos America boycott

In a clever video posted on, there are clips spliced together that show Selig saying, “baseball is a social institution.” As reported in ColorLines last month, the commissioner’s also said that the major league baseball would only “do things when baseball can influence decisions.”

Though Selig refuses to move the game, there is already a long list of Latino players
who have said they will boycott the All Star game if it stays in
Arizona. And history may be on the protestor’s side. When Arizona
rejected adding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to its calendar, the move
cost the state the 1993 Super Bowl along with a ton of revenue when the
game was moved from Tempe to Pasadena.

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