NAACP urges pro athletes to 'avoid' signing with Texas teams due to state's positions on voting, abortion, COVID-19

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The NAACP on Thursday said it sent an open letter to every professional sports players' association in the United States urging free agent athletes to avoid signing contracts with teams in Texas due to the state's “most recent attacks on voting rights and reproductive care” as well as its stance on COVID-19.

What are the details?

The letter — signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe — was delivered to the National Football League Players Association, the Women's National Basketball Players Association, the National Basketball Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the National Hockey League Players' Association, the organization said.

“As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children and marginalized communities,” the letter states, according to the NAACP. “Over the past few months, 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 voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. 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.”

Texas' pro-life law bars abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — or as early as six weeks into pregnancy — and went into effect last month. Also in September, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed an election security bill into law that tightens restrictions on voting by mail. And earlier this month, the Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations if Texans object to the shots on the grounds of conscience, religious beliefs, or medical reasons.

The five leagues noted in the NAACP letter include nine Texas teams, ESPN said: the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans; the MLB's Houston Astros and Texas Rangers; the NBA's Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs; the NHL's Dallas Stars, and the WNBA's Dallas Wings.

“When all else fails, we must look within and answer the call to protect the basic human rights and democratic values which are fundamental to this country,” Johnson noted in regard to the letter, according to the NAACP. “Professional athletes serve as some of our country's greatest role models and we need them to join us to fight for democracy.”

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