For as long as sports have been around, athletes have always made public statements by their actions.
There was Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 world series, Cassius Clay converting to Islam and taking the name Muhammad Ali, and Ron Artest changing his name to Metta World Peace, just to name a few.
Athlete actions have ranged from the legendary to the spiritual to the fringe insane.
In a time where athletes often get a bad rap for holding out for higher salaries in troubled economic times, Major League Baseball players have just missed a chance to make a stand and show that their cares extend past their signing bonuses and contract lengths.
This year’s MLB All-Star game was in Phoenix, Ariz. at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Unless you were living in a hole with an actual diamondback snake for the last 18 months, you are aware of the political battlefield that Arizona has turned into.
In April 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration.
The law makes it a crime to not carry proper immigration documents at all times and gives police the power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
“Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status,” a New York Times article from April 23, 2010 stated.
The law has been met with outcry from the start, from public protests in Arizona to condemnation from The White House.
After some legal challenges last year, including one by the United States Department of Justice, a federal judge issued an injunction blocking some of the law’s provisions.
Plans for the 2011 All-Star game to be held in Arizona have been in place since before the bill was signed and many wondered what kind of statement MLB¿would make, as there are far more Hispanic players in baseball than in basketball or football.
Major League Baseball has been silent.
According to a USA Today article published on Sunday, July 10, Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said last year that he would consider boycotting the All-Star game if it was not moved out of Arizona. But now, the American League all-star and starting first baseman has had a sudden change of heart, deciding to play in the game and refusing to answer any questions on the topic.
While Gonzalez’s standing as a U.S. citizen is perfectly legal, having been born in California to Mexican parents, he can still be scrutinized by local authorities under Arizona law should they believe him to be an illegal immigrant, based on his appearance.
Of the 84 total all-stars who have been chosen for the teams in the various ways, 20 of them were born in a Latin American county and many others are of Latin decent, and they are all the type of people that the immigration bill targets.
It is time for these 20 players and those in the locker room with them to take a stand.
If budding-stars like Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes make a stand against Arizona’s immigration bill and racism against Hispanics in this country then players like Jair Jurrjens and Starlin Castro will follow.
When fans see the players they admire making a real stand against an injustice, then they will follow as well.
We saw in the 1968 Olympics, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised a clinched fist in a black glove in the air during The Star-Spangled Banner, that athletes have the power to protest on a national stage and grab the nation’s and world’s attention.
Smith and Carlos were protesting racial segregation in the United States.
Major League Baseball has the chance to grab the nation’s and world’s attention and protest racial profiling.
Major League Baseball was silent during the steroid era and is now paying the consequences. Can it really afford to remain silent on the issue of racial profiling?