In 1989, the people of the state of Arizona voted against recognizing Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. As a result, the National Football League pulled Super Bowl XXVII from the city of Tempe and instead awarded it to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The NFL, in partnership with the NFL Players Association, vowed to not consider the state of Arizona for any Super Bowls so long as state continued to not recognize the Dr. King holiday. *
In November of 1992, voters in the Copper State approved the establishment of the holiday, and several months later, the NFL awarded Super Bowl XXX to the city of Glendale. It is estimated that game generated over $300M of economic impact to the state of Arizona, and the message had been laid out loud and clear by the NFL. “Do what is right or we’ll penalize you until you do.”
Here’s hoping Major League Baseball takes a cue from the NFL and uses its mighty muscle to affect positive change in Arizona. It is estimated the state drew in $632 million into its economy in 2012 as a result of spring training baseball. And unlike the Super Bowl, the Cactus League pumps money into the state on an annual basis.
It’s for this reason MLB should use its leverage as a spring time sugar daddy and pressure Arizona to repeal its stringent immigration law. Better known as SB1070, the law, in its original form, has already been partially struck down by the United Stated Supreme Court. Yet a key provision remains. To quote the NY Times, “The provision requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.”
Let me repeat that. If a cop pulls me over in the state of Arizona for speeding, and that cop “suspects” I may be an illegal alien, that cop is required by law to confirm my immigration status. Does that mean if I am driving through Arizona I need to make sure I have a copy of my birth certificate or my passport with me? Keep in mind, the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment is designed to prevent discrimination in the context of the application of laws. If something is legal for Caucasians, it is also legal for African-Americans and Hispanics. Conversely, law enforcement cannot single me out simply based on the color of my skin.
“…if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.”
Can someone explain to me how that suspicion is aroused other than by looking at the color of someone’s skin? Are there any Canadians that “look” illegal? Do you think Steve Nash, while playing for the Phoenix Suns, ever had to worry that a police officer might suspect he’s a Canadian who is in the states illegally? As Bryan Curtis points out brilliantly in his piece for Grantland, this issue is front and center with MLB as many Dominicans, Venezuelans, and Mexicans invade Arizona every year for spring training. Even American-born players who are of Hispanic descent are impacted by SB1070.
The NFL set the bar on social justice and sports in the 1990’s. It’s time Major League Baseball takes it to the next level and applies political and financial pressure on Arizona to do away with its wholly unconstitutional immigration law.