Looks like Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred enjoyed his brush with politics this month so much that he’s decided to go all in.
Three weeks ago, Manfred elected to pull this summer’s MLB All-Star Game out of Georgia to protest the state’s new voting reform law. Ironically, he moved the game to Colorado, a state with a 9 percent black population and even stricter voting laws.
Anyway, the league is now distributing surveys to fans, and one of the questions asks them to identify their political affiliation, National Review reported Monday.
MLB tried to justify the question in a statement to the publication, saying, “The research has shown that a person’s self-identified political affiliation often impacts their views about the pandemic, and therefore respondents’ views regarding returning to the ballpark. Since we are in the midst of the pandemic, this is valuable information for our clubs to understand the views of their fans about attending games.”
The league emphasized that this is the third year it has conducted surveys. However, the question about political affiliation appeared for the first time during the 2020 postseason.
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MLB said this is only one question in an “extensive” questionnaire about its entire experience, from the purchase of their tickets to attendance at the game, and noted that many organizations ask survey respondents for their political affiliation. Additionally, it said, “Taking the survey and answering that question are completely voluntary.”
Respondents can check the box for “Democrat,” “Republican,” “A Third Party,” “Independent” or “I prefer not to say,” or they can simply leave it blank.
“MLB says the information will be used to determine broad trends, and insists that the results of the surveys – which are sent via email – aren’t tied to any individual accounts,” according to The National Review.
Understandably, Manfred’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta wasn’t received well by Republicans. A Morning Consult poll taken in mid-March showed MLB’s net favorability rating among Republicans at 47 percent. One week after the league’s announcement about moving the game, the rating had plummeted to 12 percent.
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Knowing that 75 million Americans voted for then-President Donald Trump in the November election, it defies logic that any business, particularly a major professional sports league, would actively and publicly express divisive political views. Don’t they understand that fans look to sports as a respite from the harsh realities of everyday life? Why would they choose to alienate so many of their loyal fans to make a political statement?
For many Americans, flying is a necessity. Although I will look at JetBlue flights first, if there’s a more convenient or less expensive flight available for a trip I need to take, I’ll continue to fly on Delta, United or American Airlines in spite of their political stands.
Attending a baseball game, however, is not a necessity. It’s easy to forgo a trip to the ballpark.
Up until the death of George Floyd last year, MLB had largely stayed away from the political arena. Afterward, however, the league publicly expressed its support for Black Lives Matter.
The New York Times described the scene at the COVID-delayed Opening Day game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals last July:
“The 200-yard black cloth stretched along the foul lines, starting at one edge of the outfield, wrapping around home plate and extending to the other side of the diamond. It was held by coaches and players from both the Washington Nationals and the Yankees, all spaced out, as a message recorded by the actor Morgan Freeman played over the stadium speakers. … Then they all took a knee for 60 seconds of silence.”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose support for the Yankees is legendary, immediately criticized these actions on Twitter.
All those ball players, including the Yankees, taking a knee during the National Anthem of the country that made them millionaires is hypocritical.
Support for BLM, which is provoking attacks on our law enforcement and innocent people all over America, is disgraceful.
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) July 24, 2020
Manfred needs to understand that his attempt to curry favor with the current administration and others on the left will come at a cost. He need only look at the NBA’s experience.
According to Sports Media Watch, the ratings for the NBA All-Star Game (played in March) across TNT and TBS hit a record-low of 3.1, down 24 percent from 4.1 last year. And 5.94 million viewers watched the game, a drop of 18 percent from 7.28 million in 2020.
Last week, Fox Business News reported that Republican lawmakers were planning to introduce legislation to strip MLB of its anti-trust exemption.
The report explained that the league is “regarded as an ‘exhibition’ and not subject to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution — thanks to a 1922 landmark Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court ruling stated that the business of Major League Baseball did not constitute ‘interstate commerce,’ making it exempt from the Sherman Act, which essentially allowed the sport to monopolize the industry. The National Football League, National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League don’t have the same exemption.”
Unfortunately, given Democrats’ control of the White House and Congress, the bill won’t get too far. But Republicans won’t forget this.
When will athletes get the message that fans don’t care about their political beliefs, especially when those views are anti-American?
Get woke, go broke, as they say.
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