SAN ANTONIO – The NBA released its regular-season schedule on Wednesday, but one date players and coaches won’t be on the field is election night.
The NBA has announced that it will not play any regular season games on November 8. It’s a rare move because the 30 teams typically don’t take full days off on the same date during the regular season.
Bron Etheridge is a Bexar County political organizer for the Texas Organizing Project. He thinks it’s a bold statement from the league.
“Any time an organization as big as the NBA makes a socially conscious decision just to make sure to encourage voting, encourage voter turnout, I think that’s great,” Etheridge said. “I think it sends the message that election day is sacred and it’s an important time.”
This isn’t the first time the NBA has taken steps to encourage voter turnout. In 2020, many NBA arenas, including the AT&T Center, were used for the first time as voting locations.
“We can’t minimize their influence, and so any time they show the importance of voting and encouraging people to vote, I think that’s going to have an impact,” Etheridge said.
Etheridge said it was also about promoting voter rights and breaking down barriers. The league also appeals to a fan base of younger voters.
“People listen to what the NBA puts out and what the players say. Encouraging people to participate in democracy is always a benefit,” Etheridge said. “One of the things we do at TOP is make sure we don’t just go to voters’ doorsteps, but we break down those barriers and encourage people to vote.”
Over the next few months, NBA teams will publicize the voter registration process, timelines and state guidelines. Prior to election night, each NBA team will play a game with a message to promote civic engagement and encourage fans and staff to vote.
“We’re really excited for this November 8 election, and it’s going to be a hallowed moment,” Etheridge said. “San Antonio voters understand the importance of engaging in the electoral process. Actions like the ones the NBA has taken to encourage and influence people to participate in the electoral process are always great.
Claudia Yoli Ferla, Executive Director of the MOVE Texas Action Fund, issued the following statement:
“Having partnered with Spurs in 2020 to register voters at their stadium, we are delighted to see the culture of civic engagement spreading to the rest of the league.
“It’s a simple yet powerful way for the league to communicate to its audience – which is largely made up of young people – that civic engagement is an important responsibility that we all share.
“At MOVE, we often talk about the importance of meeting young people where they are, and this is a great example of that. Taking steps to foster a culture of civic engagement and accountability is extremely important to the future of our country.
“We are pleased that the NBA has taken this step, and we hope that other corporations, sports leagues and other major American institutions across the country will join them in the future.”
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