President Joe Biden indicated his support for Major League Baseball (MLB) to respond to Georgia’s passage of a restrictive voting law by removing the 2021 All-Star Game from its current venue at Truist Park in Atlanta.
Speaking during an interview with ESPN SportsCenter host Sage Steele on Wednesday, Biden said he could get behind the removal of the game from the venue in order to send a message to Republican lawmakers about the new law.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that,” Biden said. “People look to them. They’re leaders.”
Biden added, “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing there in Georgia and 40 other states.”
While no formal plans or demands to change the venue have been made yet, Tony Clark, head of the MLB Players Association, indicated players may consider pushing for moving the game, which is scheduled to take place July 13.
“Players are very much aware [of the current political situation]. As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue,” Clark said. “If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation.”
The economic impact of removing the All-Star Game from Atlanta to a different venue would be significant: The game typically brings in tens of millions of dollars to host cities each year that it’s held. Such a move could also create a snowball effect, prompting other companies or sports organizations to rethink their partnerships with the state in response to the repressive voting law.
The All-Star Game isn’t the only major sporting event that faces calls for relocation. Civil rights groups are also calling for the Professional Golfers’ Association to relocate its annual Masters tournament, held in Augusta, Georgia.
Such changes would not be without precedent. The National Basketball Association, for example, removed its All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2017, after that state passed discriminatory legislation against transgender people.
Many civil rights activists hope that sports organizations’ moves could prompt Georgia-based companies like Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola to speak out more vociferously against the changes in voting laws.
Among other repressive measures, the bill passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp imposes stricter voter ID laws, curtails the use of ballot drop boxes and gives the state legislature more authority over the actions of the state election board. It also makes it illegal for individuals to hand out food or water to voters waiting in long lines to cast their ballots.
“Denying water to people waiting in line to vote is cruel and inhuman, but they could undo that provision and the bill that was just signed in Georgia would still be an outrageous and racist law that will prevent people from exercising their right to vote,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia) noted on Twitter last week.