As Election Day approaches, Bay Area professional sports teams are upping their political focus by tackling voter registration and voicing their support for propositions popping up on this year’s ballot.
On Aug. 12, the San Francisco Giants announced they were partnering with 20 professional sports teams spanning six leagues, as well as the nonprofit organizations Ross Initiative in Sports Equality (RISE) and When We All Vote to take part in the Rally the Vote campaign. The campaign consists of “a nonpartisan coalition of sports franchises teaming up to urge their fans to vote and participate in elections.”
Rally the Vote uses a professional sports team’s digital presence to encourage their fans to register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day. RISE and When We All Vote also contribute to voter outreach through means such as civic engagement, volunteer opportunities, and voter registration.
Founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, RISE is “a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice, and improve race relations.” The organization’s RISE to Vote initiative gives voter registration and educational opportunities to college and professional athletes, as well as coaches and athletic staff with the hopes that those involved inspire their fans to do the same.
When We All Vote was launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw. According to its website, the organization is focused on changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and reaching every American through strategic partnerships. Their website offers actions such as registering to vote, checking one’s voter status, and pledging to help others do the same.
Once fans are registered to vote, some teams are giving their communities a place to cast their ballot. On Sept. 4, the Golden State Warriors announced that they would use three of their facilities as voting sites.
Thrive City, the area surrounding the Chase Center, will serve as a ballot drop-off site for San Francisco County voters from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. Mercedes-Benz Garage, one of the area’s parking centers, will act as a storage space for equipment and a staging area for San Francisco County vehicles as they travel to other polling places on Election Day.
Outside of San Francisco, the team’s Oakland practice facility will act as a polling and ballot drop-off site as well as a poll worker training location. Kaiser Permanente Arena, home to the Warriors’ NBA G-League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors, will also serve as a polling place and ballot drop-off site.
In a continued attempt to rally voters, the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Earthquakes, Oakland Roots, San Jose Sharks, and the San Francisco Giants released a joint statement endorsing Proposition 16, a statewide ballot measure that looks to restore equal opportunity programs like affirmative action and combat systemic discrimination in public contracting, employment, and education. If passed, the measure would repeal Proposition 209, which was passed in 1996 and prohibits state governmental institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in public employment, contracting, and education.