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By now, we’ve all heard about Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which aims to toughen up the state’s response to illegal immigration when it takes effect in August. At least that’s what right wingers are saying the point is. Plenty more people are saying that the law will actually promote racial profiling, since police are now required to demand proof of citizenship and/or legal residence in the United States whenever they have a hint of suspicion.
The law has provoked a passionate response from not only plenty of American citizens, but plenty of figures in the sports world. Some demand has been made for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All Star Game out of Arizona, for the NCAA to move the 2011 Basketball Championship out of Arizona, and plenty of baseball players have said they would boycott the 2011 All Star Game if held in Arizona, including high profile players such as Padres and (please) future Red Sox First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who grew up in Mexico.
In response to these protests and boycotts of the state, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who looks like a worn leather purse with a face, released a statement to espn.com, defending her decision to sign the bill. In it, she said,
“Most people are united in the hope that it [the bill] will finally inspire the politicians in Washington, D.C., to stop talking and to start action now.”
Based on what we’re seeing, the federal government will take action to get rid of this law, if anything. Plenty of people mobilizing against the law are making some pretty good arguments, not to mention the celebrities speaking out against it. And it’s not just people. Boston is pulling investments out of Arizona, Oakland is boycotting Arizona businesses, and St. Paul is not funding travel to Arizona by its officials. Governor Brewer has said boycotts are abhorrent political moves by out-of-state interests, and that boycotts on illegal drugs would help Arizona’s safety and economy, whereas current boycotts wouldn’t.
Brayden King, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at Northwestern University, was quick to point out the Boston Tea Party did not do any harm, nor did the civil rights protests, but both were instrumental in helping create and improve our country. And if Governor Brewer is worried about Arizona’s economy and safety, then she should repeal the law so Arizona’s business will be patronized again.
Americans have a right to protest. Boycotts are good. And as for the drugs, let’s say you crack down on illegal drugs. You’ve implemented harsher penalties and made is harder for smugglers to operate. People will still do drugs. The harsher penalties will just lower the supply of illegal drugs, which will drive up prices. This will only increase crime and violence as people attempt to steal objects to sell and money to support drug habits. It’s basic economics.
On the other hand, you could instead legalize drugs (which takes away any fear on the part of peddlers) and tax them, which would raise revenue and allow people to do drugs if they so choose without fear so long as they pay the tax. In the meantime, if you spend the money you would have spent on enforcement programs on awareness programs instead, you could lower the demand for drugs, which would lower prices, and violent crime along with it. Again, it’s basic economics.
“The very same week that I signed the new law, a major drug ring was broken up and Mexican cartel operatives suspected of running 40,000 pounds of marijuana through southern Arizona were indicted,” said Brewer, attempting to give evidence in support of the bill.
Brewer has emphasized that race, color, and national origin are not to be used by police when enforcing the bill. So this means they’ll pull over just as many white people as other people? Will someone from Denmark be given the same treatment as someone from Mexico? Legal immigrants will be required to carry their papers at all times when the cops can ask them at any time to produce them? When Jon Stewart is forced to point out these citizens have the same requirement that free black people had in 1863, you’ve hit a low. Apartheid had the same requirement, but Arizona seems to think no ill feelings were and are harbored as a result of those times.
But isn’t this law just a blatant search and seizure, the kind citizens have a right to not be subjected to? Yes, of course it is. But Mr. Stewart was also kind enough to point how how Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio declared he would just “find” another reason to arrest you if you don’t comply. But we shouldn’t be too surprised; the whole Southwest isn’t any stranger to allegations of racism. And by the way, citizens are allowed to sue the police if they believe the law isn’t being enforced, which perpetrates the idea that the law not only encourages racial profiling, it demands it.
Enough making points, it’s time to relate everything to the world of sports. Most recently, the Phoneix Suns protested the law by breaking out their “Los Suns” jerseys before beating the Spurs in Game 2. Robert Sarver, Suns’ managing partner, decide to use the jerseys to protest what he calls a flawed and mean-spirited law that will hurt the state’s economy. Sales of the jerseys were more frequent than usual.
Adrian Gonzalez and other players have already said they will boycott the 2011 All Star Game in Arizona if selected. They are hoping that Bud Selig will be swayed, with enough support, to relocate the game somewhere else. So far, nothing has been done regarding any potential move. There’s still time (until August) until the law takes effect, so opponents of the law are probably taking time to build support and might move the game if the law isn’t repealed by then. Ditto for the NCAA Basketball Title Game in 2011.
And for those of you who might ask why Gonzalez and others don’t refuse to go to Arizona for any game, regular season games receive much less attention than the All Star Game, and there are more contractual issues to potentially worry about. And for those of you who say Gonzalez and others are ignoring polls which say most people in Arizona support immigration laws, most people also think the current law is not going to do what they want it to. Plus, slavery, religious persecution, and monarchies were all once very popular, but that doesn’t mean they were good.
The “Los Suns” moment was a good symbolic gesture to start, but if athletes want to induce change, more will be needed. The All Star and NCAA Title Games are obviously points of pride to the state, and will boost its economy with their presence. Is it a good thing for that extra income to be used for such a negative cause? Remember, Sheriff Arpaio has already declared that he would essentially misuse his power and enforce the law with a prejudice. Threatening to remove these high profile events from Arizona would let the state know most people believe they’re going too far, and force them to reconsider.
There has also been some minor banter about moving spring training team facilities from Arizona, but this is not immediately feasible, because about half of the baseball teams play there in the spring. But we have seen teams change facilities lately. Over the next few seasons, teams could shop around for new facilities. Florida’s always popular, California’s nice, and if need be, teams could always play on their usual home fields. What better way to get used to poor weather than to practice in it? Over time, teams’ ability to change their spring training locations, or in the D-backs’ or Suns’ case, move out of Arizona if they’re so inclined, becomes more and more possible as they have more time to prepare and coordinate a move. This isn’t to say any teams or leagues will take any further actions in protest, but if they feel strongly, these would be good ways to smother the law.