NAACP to Pro Athletes – Don’t Sign with Texas Teams
Just like there is an alleged separation between church and state when it comes to governing this great nation of ours there was once a separation between politics and sports. We used sports as a diversion from the conflicts often brought about by political actions and policies.
That time is no more.
We are now seeing not only sports leagues and professional athletes using their leverage and platform to further their political and social views but we're also seeing groups seeking change in the country's political policy flexing their muscle by applying pressure through sports.
A prime example of this is a letter that was sent by the NAACP to the player's associations of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the Women's National Basketball Association. That letter signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson is asking free-agent players to reconsider signing with sports teams based in Texas.
The reason the NAACP is asking athletes to reconsider those signings has more to do with the state's political climate than it does with sports. The NAACP letter pointed to recently passed laws in Texas that restrict rights on abortion, voting, and coronavirus safety protocols as the reason they want athletes to think before they sign.
A portion of Derrick Johnson's letter reads like this,
Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus
That portion of Johnson's letter was reported and published by ESPN.com.
We are seeing more and more intermingling of politics and sports. You might recall the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was moved from Atlanta earlier this year because of issues that the MLB had with voting rights laws that had been passed in the state of Georgia earlier this year.
Obviously, sports leagues and professional athletes are prime targets for those individuals or organizations who want to further their political or social agenda. There is no bigger platform than professional sports in this country. So, if you have a message you want people to know about, professional sports, pro athletes, and the leagues they represent are an easy target to shoot for.
The letter from the NAACP was sent on Thursday. So far, there has been no response from any of the professional sports franchises based in Texas of which there are quite a few. In the NFL there are the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, the NBA has the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs, Major League Baseball has the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, the NHL has the Dallas Stars, and the WNBA has the Dallas Wings.
You can bet there will be a reaction coming from all parties concerned later today and throughout the course of the weekend. The NAACP letter did not mention any college programs and it's not clear if the organization will carry that same message to the state of Texas' many college sports programs.
Let us hope that in the world of reasonable people that this letter from the NAACP will not be viewed as an instrument of control but as an instrument of conversation. These are highly emotional issues and they impact the lives of so many outside the realm of sports. Let us hope that leaders from all sides can come together to at least gain a better knowledge of each side's position.