Those who believe sports and politics don't mix are fooling themselves. We all know the long-lasting, far-reaching impact San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick's protest, which continue to resonate today. Thoughtful and respectful denunciation of police brutality against Black people turned into something it wasn't because white people could not handle systemic racism being called out in the country's police departments. Somehow, calling out racism by people who suffered at its hands was depicted by fragile white folks as disrespecting the flag, and insulting to veterans, and astonishingly, turned into a labor dispute wherein the "president" of the U.S. felt comfortable weighing in on personnel matters of private citizens.
It shouldn't surprise us, then, to learn that in Major League Baseball, another political earthquake shook the landscape. Judd Legum broke the story yesterday that Major League Baseball donated $5000 to Mississippi Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, AFTER she made favorable comments about public hangings, voter suppression, and wearing Confederate soldier garb. There was an outcry, and MLB has now requested its money back. His followers on Twitter astutely point out, however, it's potentially unknowable whether the money will ever be returned. Even if we do find out, the real travesty is that the money was ever donated in the first place, and MLB's reasoning for the donation sounded weird.
In an even more disgusting display condoning Hyde-Smith's segregationist vision, San Francisco Giants co-owner, Charles Johnson and his wife each donated the individual maximum ($2,700 per person) to Cindy Hyde-Smith. As of now, they have not requested their donations be refunded, and it sounds like no one expects them to make that request, considering this is their second donation to Hyde-Smith in two months. San Francisco fans are not happy about this.
Marcos Bretón, columnist with the Sacramento Bee wrote,
Ideas and attitudes in politics that were once condemned are now mainstream and acceptable: Voter suppression. Praise for white nationalists. Tacit acceptance of racist people, racist ideas, racist dog whistles.
We are either against these things, or we support them with our votes or, like Johnson, with our money. Or we just look the other way and make excuses or hollow rationalizations for tolerating what should be intolerable.
I’m saying if you don’t object to bigotry, then you support it. If you say that Johnson is a little known rich guy who happens to own the biggest piece of the Giants – and that has nothing to do with you – then you support whom he supports.
Throughout our history, the unacceptable has flourished when good people found it acceptable.
You can’t say that you don’t choose a side because denial aids and comforts the unacceptable.
Charles Johnson has a lot to answer for. It's up to Giants fans to hold his feet to the fire.