Staff Writer cityXtra Magazine
The “stick to sports” mantra took on a life of its own in 2017, as the interweaving of sports and politics was undeniable and, ultimately, angered quite a few sports fans. Still, protests during the national anthem or political tweets by athletes never actually got in the way of the action or stopped games from being played.
But politics have halted a college baseball series between the University of Southern Mississippi and Stony Brook University, a public school in New York. The two schools were scheduled to meet in a three-game series in February, but dueling declarations in each state have now made that series impossible. The kicker? It has absolutely nothing to do with baseball.
At the crux of this is Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 — an anti-gay marriage law that’s been dubbed the “religious freedom bill.” It allows businesses and the government to deny services to gay couples, while defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It was signed into law in 2016, went into effect in October and is still awaiting a Supreme Court appeal.
In response to HB 1523, New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo banned all state-sponsored non-essential travel to Mississippi. And since Stony Brook is a public school, the trip to Southern Miss to play baseball — an action that has nothing to do with politics, sexuality or marriage — is off the table.
From The Sun Herald’s Patrick Magee:
Instead of playing a weekend series in Hattiesburg on Feb. 23-25, USM will travel to take part in a tournament at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas.
“I just hate losing the three home games,” USM head coach Scott Berry said. “I’m sure it’s going to cost us for sure. That’s three gates and everything that goes into a game day in terms of revenue.”
Whatever your opinion is of Mississippi’s law and New York’s response, disrupting a college baseball series that had been in the works since 2014 isn’t actually moving forward the dialogue on this very important.