‘Look Elsewhere’: NAACP Urges Pro Athletes Not to Sign With Texas Teams Due to Abortion, Voting Laws

© AP Photo / Eric GayA man holds a Texas flag.
A man holds a Texas flag. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
A leading civil rights organization has called upon professional athletes to avoid moving to Texas and signing with Texas sports teams in response to a series of laws recently passed by the state that will restrict access to abortion and to voting.
In a Thursday letter to the players' associations for the National Football League, the Women’s National Basketball League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas State Conference President Gary Bledsoe urged free agents and players looking to sign with a professional sports team to avoid the Lone Star State.
“From abortion to voting rights and mask mandates, Texas has become a blueprint by legislators to violate constitutional rights for all, especially for women, children, and marginalized communities,” the letter reads. “Texas is setting a precedent for effectively dismantling civil rights throughout the nation. Their top priority is infringing on their constitutional duty to promote the general welfare. It is time we take this situation into our own hands and stand up for what’s right. It is up to those with a voice to stand up for the women in our lives, to protect our children and our fellow citizens.”
“If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas. If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas,” Johnson wrote.
However, he cautions that if players do decide to sign with a Texas team, they “ensure that owners are upholding their responsibility of protecting you, the athlete, and your family. I ask you to use your influence to help protect the constitutional rights of each individual at risk.”
Texas is home to 13 professional sports teams.
The message is in response to a number of laws and executive orders signed by Texas Governor Greg Abott in recent months, to which liberals strongly object. They include the redrawing of congressional districts in a way critics say diminishes the voting power of Hispanic and nonwhite communities, which make up a majority of the state’s population, and a law passed in the aftermath of the November 2020 election that restricted the ways, times and places at which people may vote. That law is also claimed to impact nonwhite communities the hardest, but which conservatives have justified by claiming - following a lead set by former US President Donald Trump - that widespread fraud helped Democrats win.

Another Texas law passed in April that took effect last month bans abortions after five or six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they’re pregnant, in what has become the country’s most stringent anti-abortion law. The law bans 85% of abortions and has a novel enforcement feature that permits third-party lawsuits against abortion providers and those who “aid and abet” the abortion, which is designed to frustrate attempts by the Biden administration to challenge it. The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear arguments about the Department of Justice’s ability to do so.

Abbott also signed into law earlier this week bans transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, part of a widespread effort to clamp down on the rights of trans people to participate equally in American society. Supporters of the bill and others like it claim they are protecting cisgender girls from unfair competition by trans athletes assigned male at birth, but opponents say there’s no demonstrable proof of trans althetes’ physical superiority and that the fear rests on age-old myths of female inferiority.
There have also been calls for the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) to boycott states that pass bills barring trans athletes from sports teams of their gender, including a letter signed by 500 student-athletes earlier this year. Nine states have passed trans athlete bans this year.
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