President Joe Biden said he would “strongly support” moving the Major League Baseball All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new voting law that critics say may suppress turnout at the ballot box.
Biden spoke to ESPN’s Sage Steele in an 11-minute interview Wednesday night, saying he would back the MLB if the league decided to move the July 13 game out of Georgia in response to the GOP-backed election reform signed last month by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden said. “I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders.”
Biden characterized the new law – which adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail and bans people from handing out food and water to voters in line – as “Jim Crow on steroids.”
Biden’s comments came just one day after the CEO of Georgia-based Delta blasted the new law as “unacceptable” and “based on a lie.” The MLB’s players union has also floated the possibility of moving the game out of the Atlanta Braves stadium.
“Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can’t do that? C’mon,” the president continued. “Or you’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”
Steele noted that if the game is moved out of Atlanta, it wouldn’t be the first time a professional sports league moved its All-Star contest because of “political reasons.” The NBA decided to move its 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte due to North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill,” which required transgender individuals to use public restrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificate.
The league later held its All-Star game in Charlotte in 2019 after the state repealed portions of the March 2016 law, the Washington Post reported.
“Sports have a long history of helping to change attitudes around important social issues,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in May 2017 while announcing the 2019 game site. “We believe holding our All-Star activities in Charlotte will be a powerful way for the NBA to continue this tradition.”