NAACP urges athletes to avoid signing with Texas teams over restrictive state laws

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The NAACP made its position clear on Thursday afternoon.

If you’re a professional athlete, the organization said, avoid signing with a team in the state of Texas.

The NAACP sent a two-page letter to the MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL and NFL players’ associations on Thursday officially asking players to not sign with Texas sports teams due to a series of restrictive laws that have been passed in the state in recent months.

NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson signed the letter and cited the state’s near-total abortion ban, new restrictive voting rights laws and lack of mask mandates and vaccine requirements when calling for the change.

"If you are considering signing in Texas, I ask you to ensure that owners are upholding their responsibility of protecting you, the athlete, and your family," the letter states, via ESPN. "I ask you to use your influence to help protect the constitutional rights of each individual at risk."

There are nine professional teams in the state of Texas: the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL; the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA; the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in MLB; the Dallas Stars in the NHL; and the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has passed several controversial laws in recent months that Johnson cited in his letter. The state in May passed a law banning abortion procedures after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. That law has been the center of nationwide controversy and is the strictest of its kind in the country. Abbott has also signed a new voting bill that Republicans contend enhances voting security and Democrats say restricts voting access in the state. Abbot has also banned all COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Johnson called these new laws “archaic” and said they specifically hurt people of color in the state.

"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," the letter says, via ESPN.

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