Coincidentally or not, some red states that went blue in 2020 are looking to change their voting laws. Georgia has done it, and Arizona is now possibly doing the same.
In Georgia, the NFL had little to say or to do about the new law that widely has been criticized as an effort to suppress the vote of those who may be inclined to vote blue in the future. Beyond a statement by Falcons owner Arthur Blank and an internal memo from Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL did little huffing and puffing — and had no specific house to blow down, unlike Major League Baseball.
In Arizona, multiple proposals aimed at reforming the voting procedures are working their way through the legislative process. Via Tuscon.com, Arizona governor Doug Ducey said that his ultimate decision on whether to sign any such measures into law won’t be influenced by the possibility that the NFL may yank Super Bowl LVII from State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
“I’m going to sign good policy,” Ducey said Thursday.
Thirty years ago, the NFL moved a Super Bowl from Phoenix after Arizona refused to adopt Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday.
This time, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill is among those who signed a letter on behalf of the Greater Phoenix Leadership group regarding the ongoing efforts to reform the voting laws in Arizona.
“They are ‘solutions’ in search of a problem,” the letter explained regarding the bills being discussed in the Arizona legislature. “They are attempts at voter suppression cloaked as reform — plain and simple. . . . Arizonans already have confidence in the integrity of our elections and, by and large, find it easy to vote.”
Ducey disagrees with the recent decision to remove the All-State Game from Georgia.
“I think Major League Baseball made a big mistake,” Ducey. “I’d like to keep politics out of baseball. . . . I report to the people of Arizona and not a major sports league. And I’m going to make decisions on the policies that are put in front of me.”
Baseball’s decision has reignited the question of whether politics and sports mix. Many would say that it’s a problem only when specific political views conflict with the views held by those complaining about sports and politics mixing. For example, the playing of the national anthem before sporting events is an inherently political act, aimed at compelling all attendees to engage in a public display of allegiance and loyalty to the nation. Few if any ever complain about this inherently political display from occurring before baseball, football, basketball, or hockey games.
The NFL has given no indication that voting reforms in Arizona will jeopardize Super Bowl LVII. After dealing with strong criticism that arose from the national anthem controversy in 2016 and that has flashed from time to time since then, the league would surely prefer to keep its head low on matters of this nature.
Bidwill’s signature on the letter sent to Ducey shows that, on voting rights, the owner of Arizona’s professional football team is willing to take a position. Whether the NFL would do the same by repositioning the Super Bowl to be played in early 2023 remains to be seen.