While going up 2-0 over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals on Cinco de Mayo in Phoenix, the Phoenix Suns voiced their opinions on a new immigration law in Arizona.
Sporting jerseys saying “Los Suns” Wednesday as a protest, the Suns’ front office and players have been adamant about the problems of SB 1070. The new law gives Arizona law enforcement officials the power to question the citizenship of anyone on suspicion alone.
Basically, the law will make racial profiling legal, as the targeted suspects will be mostly Latin and Asian.
“We felt like, however well intended, the law was not right,” said Suns general manager Steve Kerr in an interview with a Phoenix ABC affiliate.
“The law is misguided,” said two-time NBA MVP and Canadian immigrant Steve Nash in an interview with the ABC affiliate. “We need to be very cautious in how we protect our civil liberties.”
Symbolic protests like the one the Suns made may start a conversation, but it will take a firm stance from professional and collegiate organizations to make an impact on Arizona legislators.
In 2011, Arizona is scheduled to host two major sporting events, the Major League Baseball All-Star game and the Bowl Championship Series National Championship football game. The MLB and NCAA should pull the events.
If one of the events are moved, it wouldn’t be the first time a big-ticket event was taken from Arizona because of its legislation.
Following a 1990 vote in which Arizona citizens refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King Day as a holiday, the National Football League pulled Super Bowl XXVII from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
In 1992, Arizona voted for the King Holiday and the NFL awarded Super Bowl XXX to Tempe.
Keeping the games in Arizona would send a message to each organization’s fans, athletes and employees that border-line Jim Crow legislation is acceptable and states that pass these laws still can reap the benefits from sporting events that feature minority and immigrant participants.
Opponents of moving the games say sports should not get involved in politics, but the issue goes deeper than that. A stance made would be more for civil rights than politics, and sports has been at the forefront of the civil rights movement.
Ever since Jackie Robinson, sports has showed that race, ethnicity or country of origin doesn’t matter, as long as an athlete can compete. Not making a stance now would reverse the position sports has taken since 1947.
According to usatoday.com, a communications consulting firm that was part of the effort to end apartheid in South Africa, has joined forces with Latino-led presente.org to raise awareness about the law and ask fans to petition MLB commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game.
To sign the petition, go to movethegame.org.