SBD/Issue 161/Leagues & Governing Bodies

N.Y. TIMES' Rhoden Calls On MLB To Make Statement About AZ Law

Selig, Baseball Have Remained Silent About
Immigration Law, Despite Numerous Protests

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig needs to "acknowledge that people are looking to Major League Baseball to make a statement" about the new Arizona immigration law, but he needs to "keep his message basic," according to William Rhoden of the N.Y. TIMES. MLB and Selig "have remained silent, presumably in hopes that the issue will go away," but it "isn't going away, at least not anytime soon." The law to this point has "so handcuffed Selig that he has been unable to react." Rhoden: "If this legacy-conscious commissioner is not careful, or perhaps if he is too careful, he will whiff on this issue without ever taking the bat off his shoulder." However, MLB "makes a strong statement about inclusion 162 times a season." Selig could "remind his fans, those who support the Arizona legislation and those who oppose it, that close to 30[%] of major league players were born elsewhere. That these international players help provide the strength of the game. That it is unthinkable that they should feel in any way unwelcome." Rhoden: "With his legacy on the line, it's the swing he eventually has to take" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4).

DOES MLB NEED TO SPEAK OUT? Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent said he would advise Selig “to just sit quietly.” Vincent: “It is just not baseball's role at this stage. One has to see what Congress and the President do. It is much more their game than his, and I think he is entitled to say that he doesn't have to swing at every pitch. This is a pitch that he can let go by." He added, “My guess is, knowing Bud, that he will be very cautious. He doesn't want to choose sides. The Arizona statute has a lot of public support. He has a home in Arizona. He is very seriously conflicted, as we all are. He has got to listen to the players -- Michael Weiner, the union head, has spoken on the subject. So I think Bud's best hand now is to say, 'This is in Congress. This is the President's issue. It is a national issue, and I'm just running a small part of the country's activities and I think my role is to sit and let other people handle this problem. This is not my issue'" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 5/4). In Philadelphia, Stephen A. Smith writes under the header, "Baseball's Job Is Not Politics." MLB "needs to pause with caution before involving itself -- even if some of its Latin players elect to do so." The league "does not need to act like the NFL did in the 1980s, fighting with Arizona over its refusal to recognize the holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/4). But in Dallas, Jean-Jacques Taylor writes under the header, "Sports Commissioners Should Vow Boycott If Unjust Arizona Law Takes Effect." It is "time for our various sports commissioners to speak." If Arizona Senate Bill 1070 "goes into effect July 29, then you can say goodbye to a plethora of sporting events" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/4).

University of Phoenix Stadium In Glendale
In Running To Host 2018 Or 2022 World Cup

IMPACT ON GLENDALE'S WORLD CUP BID: In N.Y., Jack Bell reports Glendale, Arizona, is "one of the 18 cities included in the United States' bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup," but the state's new immigration law "could have an effect" on the city's candidacy. USA Bid Committee Dir of Marketing & Communications Jurgen Mainka said that the group would not comment on the new law, and U.S. Soccer Federation Communications Coordinator Neil Buethe also declined comment. Bell notes Glendale's Univ. of Phoenix Stadium "has emerged as a destination for Soccer United Marketing," and SUM Dir of Int'l Communications Marisabel Munoz said MLS and SUM "will continue to look at Phoenix as an option to bring top-flight soccer events." Meanwhile, the MLSPU "has not taken a position on the immigration law" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/4). In N.Y., Andrew Das noted the "controversy and protests sparked by Arizona's new law are worrying some sports officials." The USA Bid Committee "could try to nip the crisis in the bud by dropping University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale from the bid committee's list of possible venues," as the World Cup would "use only 12 of the 18 proposed cities anyway." But the issue of illegal immigration "remains incredibly divisive, and the fight over it shows no signs of abating." Das noted FIFA will make its "final visits to assess the merits of the United States bid later this year," and a "venomous fight about suspicious-looking foreigners, identity cards and police powers is certainly not the welcome U.S. Soccer officials had in mind" (NYTIMES.com, 5/3).

NO BCS RAMIFICATIONS YET: ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote despite the "innumerable imminent federal lawsuits and dozens of rallies across the nation" regarding Arizona's new law, "all is seemingly quiet" from FBS schools, which will hold the BCS National Championship game at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium in January. FBS officials are "keeping quiet about public opinion on their campuses over the controversial immigration law." Big East Senior Associate Commissioner for Football and NCAA Football Issues Committee Chair Nick Carparelli: "It's not something that seems to be on the college football radar at the moment." Meanwhile, Fiesta Bowl President John Junker is "preparing to host the annual Fiesta Frolic this week, a gathering of FBS athletic directors and head football coaches to which no reporters were invited," and "no one has talked about boycotting it" (ESPN.com, 5/3).

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