NAACP urging athletes in free agency not to sign with teams in Texas

October 28, 2021
Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a briefing at the Texas State Capitol in July.

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) issued a letter Thursday to all major players’ associations calling for athletes in free agency to avoid signing with teams that are in Texas in response to the state’s recently enacted voting laws and new restrictions to women’s reproductive freedoms. 

“In response to the most recent attacks on voting rights and reproductive care, the Association sent an open letter to the National Players’ Leagues, urging free agents to reconsider moving their families to a state that is not safe for anyone,” said the NAACP in a press release.

The two-page letter was sent to the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB and NHL Players’ Associations signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe. The letter directly addressed Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“I write to you today in an attempt to appeal not only to your influential platforms as highly-regarded athletes but to your respective purposes a parents and roles model for both our children and those in your personal lives,” wrote Johnson. “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.”

In September, Abbott signed a Republican-backed voting bill to essentially rewrite the state’s election rules, tightening strict voting laws.

In May, Abbott also signed an abortion ban into law in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against abortion rights groups seeking to prevent it from taking effect, declining to block the law that bans procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. 

“Over the past few month, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman’s freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown votes, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus.”

This month, Abbott issued an executive order banning vaccine requirements in the state. 

The letter continued with highlighting how Abbott’s laws are intended to suppress people of color’s constitutional right to vote. 

MORE: Texas is the latest state to pass law restricting transgender students’ participation in school sports

“Recently released data from the 2020 census shows that people of color have driven 95% of the Texas population growth. Yet, new voting legislation and political maps put these communities at risk of not being able to participate in their democracy.”

The letter also notes that physicians cannot uphold their Hippocratic Oath to properly and ethically care for women and children:

“The Texas government has also empowered vigilantes with the authority of the law, going so far as to offer $10,00 incentive to sue all who aid women in exercising their constitutional right to an abortion.”

Johnson’s plea to athletes is to critically think if organizations and owners are “upholding their responsibility of protecting” them, the athlete and their families.

“Texas lawmakers have destroyed the state’s moral compass by passing these laws. In return, we are asking that you seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity.

“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.”

The Office of Gov. Greg Abbot has not yet responded to USA TODAY Sports’ request for comment. 

Contact Analis Bailey at [email protected] or on Twitter @analisbailey.

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