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Billy Reed: All-Star Game moved from Atlanta but there’s surely a way to call attention to Georgia mess

By now just about everyone knows that Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has ordered the All-Star Game moved from Atlanta to Denver to protest Georgia’s new laws that encourage voter suppression.

The decision was driven by the Players’ Association, which has many African-American and Hispanic members, and supported by Atlanta-based multi-national corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines.

However, the decision also has outraged right-wing political groups on the grounds that it’s unfair to Georgia for economic reasons. They reason, not unreasonably, that Atlanta has far more African-American citizens and minority-owned businesses than Denver.

Billy Reed is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Transylvania University Hall of Fame. He has been named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year eight times and has won the Eclipse Award three times. Reed has written about a multitude of sports events for over four decades and is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable writers on the Kentucky Derby. His book “Last of a BReed” is available on Amazon.

While I support the moral reasoning behind MLB’s decision – any move to promoter voter suppression should be renounced in the strongest possible terms – I also wish the All-Star game would have been kept in Atlanta, but for reasons the right-wing bigots might not like.

Had the game been kept in Atlanta, it could have become a rallying point for all groups that oppose voter suppression. They could have flooded the city, good for the Atlanta economy, but, more importantly, staged all sorts of protests, rallies and meetings that would have been impossible for the nation – the world, even – to ignore.

The problem won’t get nearly that kind of attention in Denver, far removed from the hue and cry of Atlanta, so, in a very real sense, it’s an opportunity blown for those would oppose the racist redneck politicians who foisted these contemptible laws on their constituents.

So I guess I wish cooler heads had prevailed. Had the Mayor of Atlanta, MLB, and civil-rights leaders gotten together and thought deeply about it, they may have concluded that keeping the game in Atlanta would serve their purposes instead of moving it.

There’s still time to reverse the decision, but that won’t happen. The die are cast, to quote that great baseball fan Julius Caesar. If it changed its mind, MLB would be ridiculed by its critics as being wishy-washy.

If I were the Mayor of Atlanta, I would schedule another event that would coincide precisely with the All-Star game in Denver. Maybe a tribute to Hank Aaron, the iconic Braves’ slugger and racial pioneer. Surely the Players’ Association would provide enough players for an Old-Timers’ Game in Aaron’s honor.

I think the national TV audience would be far more interested in watching that than an All-Star Game of today’s players. Everybody would win, except the Governor and racist politicians of Georgia.

There are ways to turn this mess into something good for the country, provided the leaders of Atlanta and MLB have the vision and courage to do it.

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  1. Warren Brattain says:

    What part of the law do you think fits the term-voter suppression? I for one keep hearing journalists say this but I never see any citation of any paticular aspect of this new law to back up such a claim.Examples please?

    • Willie says:

      I would love to know this as well. You have to have an I.D. to do so many other things, but these people somehow believe it is crazy should be required to have one to vote. Insane!

  2. Shannon says:

    I too am trying to find proof of voter suppression in this law. I’ve been researching for 5 days via hundreds of articles online and reading the actual text of the bill. If someone could be give me information and documents showing the suppression. I have a very open mind to this stuff, but I’m getting exhausted looking.

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