Sports unite people, especially during times like these. People are doing everything they can to make a meaningful impact on the world.
It’s the definition of putting something to good use. Since the coronavirus pandemic has left many sports stadiums and arenas empty, they have been recycled to be used as efficient and safe polling places.
The huge spaces allow for large rows of voting machines and social distancing and the staff working there are accustomed to a large pool of crowds. This type of repurposing attracts numerous amounts of voters who are looking to cast their ballot and take part in shaping the future of their country amid the pandemic.
The Atlanta Hawks were the first NBA team to use their stadium as a polling site. They contacted Fulton County Officials in June after they have seen the long lines during the primary elections and after the murder of George Floyd. After that, 20 other NBA teams have joined the effort in providing citizens with a safe way to vote. It comes after the NBA players started fighting against racial injustices. The league also agreed to make a plan that encouraged voting this fall. It’ll be easier for the NBA to do that, since their usual start of the season was postponed and no games will overlap with the voting process.
Other leagues like the NFL, NHL and MLB are getting involved with it as well. Half of the NFL’s 32 leagues are turning there facilities into voting sites too. The owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé, was instrumental in the “Rally The Vote” campaign to encourage voting. A lot of other professional athletes jumped to support the cause. People will be able to register and cast their vote at the Kings’ Golden 1 center starting 11 days before the November 3rd election.
Dallas voters greeted this opportunity enthusiastically. Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban retweeted a message saying that the voting experience at the American Airlines center has been “the coolest one”. They had up to 60 voting machines stationed there.
Florida has their early voting sites at NBA’s Orlando Magic, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Arena and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s stadium.
Since the pandemic is still going on, the need for venues where people can vote safely and still social distance has been crucial, so the fact that various arena’s and stadiums have been available is amazing. Not only that, it has also inspired people to show up to the polls and make a change.