Yesterday, I wrote about two news items that showed baseball sociology in action. Later in the day, there was another example of baseball sociology. Yesterday evening, Major League Baseball issued a statement against the proposed Arizona bill to permit businesses to deny service to anyone – including gay and lesbian customers – based on the proprietors’ religious beliefs. As the governor was contemplating the bill, around 6 p.m. MLB issued it’s statement:
“As the sport of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball and its 30 Clubs stand united behind the principles of respect, inclusion and acceptance. Those values are fundamental to our game’s diverse players, employees and fans. We welcome individuals of different sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and national origins… Accordingly, MLB will neither support nor tolerate any words, attitudes or actions that imperil the inclusive communities that we have strived to foster within our game.”
“The Seattle Mariners have enjoyed 37 years of spring training in Arizona. Our fans flock to Peoria for baseball in March, and have always been made to feel welcome by the businesses and good people of Arizona. This should apply to all of our fans. The Mariners respect and value diversity. We welcome fans of all races, colors, religious beliefs, nationalities, ages, and sexual orientations. We believe that intolerance has no place in our game or society. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 1062 sends a message that not everyone is welcome. We hope Governor Brewer will reject that message.”
Others speaking out against the bill included the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals and Arizona’s Super Bowl committee (the NFL plans to hold Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, next year). Non-sports businesses also denounced the bill, including: Apple, Intel, Marriott, Starwood Hotels, PetSmart, Delta, and American Airlines.
At 7:45 p.m. last night, Governor Jan Brewer announced she had vetoed the bill. It remains to be determined what role baseball – and economics – played in her decision. What we do know is that baseball is not just a game. It is a business and an active member of the community. Baseball intersects with politics, economics, and other aspects of society. Regardless of its motivations or intentions, baseball has a role to play in the society that both shapes and is shaped by it.