Year after year, election cycle after election cycle, sports remain one of the few true escapes for many throughout the United States. The nation might be in chaos, with divisions and hate around nearly every corner, but once the game starts, it all seems to melt away.
Sure, the rules and players may change. But there’s nothing quite like that ‘all is right in the world’ feeling that happens when you’re watching your team or favorite sport, is there?
Unfortunately for baseball fans, Major League Baseball or MLB makes that a bit difficult these days.
As I’m sure you are well aware, MLB has become increasingly involved in politics. It started shortly after the death of George Floyd last year and the beginning of the widespread Black Lives Matter movement.
This is how The New York Times described Opening Day between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals in 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 sides 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.”
More recently, MLB’s commissioner Rob Manfred decided to get even further involved with political viewpoints, choosing to once again take sides with the Democrats over Georgia’s new fair election laws. He even pulled the league’s All-Star Game from the southern state in protest.
Of course, in doing so, he showed his hypocrisy by moving the game and all of its proceeds to a community that has only a tiny fraction of the ‘oppressed’ minority populations that the Peach State boasts.
But now, Manfred has made another politically based decision, and this one is aimed at learning your political affiliations.
That’s right, the league is now sending out surveys to fans that include a question about fans’ political affiliations, according to National Review.
According to MLB, the question has relevance, as “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.”
Additionally, MLB claims this is really nothing new. They have been sending out similar surveys for several years now, and they aren’t the only organization whose surveys ask about such personal views.
In some aspects, that is true. MLB has indeed been sending out surveys to fans for about three years now. However, this is the first time any question regarding political affiliation has been included.
Quite naturally, fans are not all that impressed with this question, just like they weren’t with the announcement of the All-Star Game being moved. According to a Morning Consult poll taken in mid-March, Republicans gave the league a 47 percent favorability rating. After the move to Colorado was announced, that support dropped to a mere 12 percent.
As I mentioned before, other organizations are asking similar questions in surveys. But unlike those, MLB does not have the same luxuries that most of those do.
Take Delta, United, or American Airlines, for example.
All three have recently made statements taking one political side or another. And all three have, no doubt, received some backlash from customers over those.
However, for many Americans and those in the business world, flying is not just a preference to driving. It is a must. If I’m taking a business trip to my company’s headquarters in South Florida, I don’t have the time or patience to spend two days driving from my remote mid-western home.
I’m going to fly, and if Delta has the cheapest flights with the least number of layovers, that’s who I’ll most likely fly with, no matter their political views.
The same cannot be said of baseball or the MLB. If I don’t like how a specific team or even MLB is behaving, deciding to simply not spend time or money on them is an easy decision.
And MLB ought to know that. Haven’t they watched what has happened to the NBA for making similar moves and politically affiliated statements?