Warriors, NBA hope league’s first Election Day inspires voting

SAN FRANCISCO — In its ongoing effort to appease players who rake in billions of dollars in revenue, the NBA made a bold move over the summer that, in the name of all fairness, will start a national trend.

The league has decided to make election day a company holiday.

Following a 15-game schedule that involved all teams on Monday, all 30 basketball courts will go dark on Tuesday.

This isn’t so much a political statement as an attempt to please socially conscious actors and bring America closer to its centuries-old unfulfilled promise of liberty and justice for all.

Count Brandon Schneider, Warriors’ president and chief operating officer, is pleased that the NBA is joining companies that are addressing the lack of turnout that makes voter engagement in the United States among the worst statistically in developed nations around the world.

“It’s a great trend,” Schneider told NBC Sports Bay Area. “If we can get everyone in the country to vote then we have the best chance of getting the right results.”

Although several politicians have suggested making Election Day a federal holiday and President Joe Biden has expressed support for the idea, no such legislation has passed. Only five states have declared Election Day a public holiday and require employers to guarantee paid time off.

The other 45 states are literally and figuratively all over the map. Nine consider Election Day a holiday but do not require employers to offer PTO, and 17 — including California — require an hourly PTO for voting but do not consider it a holiday. The other 19 states and Washington, DC do not consider it a holiday and are not required to offer PTO.

Though some companies, like Coca-Cola, have given their employees a full day of PTO on Election Day, for most of the country it’s a company-to-company decision.

The NBA has made its call.

“We all recognize the opportunities that we have with the platform as a league, but also as teams,” said Schneider. “It’s important to get everything together, all 30 teams in the league, to really make a difference.

“It’s been talked about in the league for a long time. I can speak more specifically to the warriors. We want to use our platform to encourage our fans and all viewers of Warriors games to vote. So that your voice is heard. To get involved in the issues that are important to you.”

The Warriors, as a franchise, have conducted voter registration drives, including players, at their headquarters, previously in Oakland and now in San Francisco. The Oakland facility at the downtown Marriott Hotel will serve as the ballot drop-off location on Tuesday.

It has to be said that this is an impartial decision lest it offend the sticking to sport crowd. This is about voting, about getting involved, not about promoting any particular candidate or proposal.

“Many people want to watch our games and do sports to escape from everyday life,” said Schneider. “We don’t want to stand in the way of that. We do not take positions on issues.

“We wanted to do as much as possible to complement the process.”

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has supported activism among the league’s coaches and players. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr have both spoken out openly about issues.

Stephen Curry was involved with the Lincoln Project — founded by Republicans against the re-election of former President Donald Trump — and also co-chaired When We All Vote, an initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018 .

When the Warriors take on the Kings on Monday, they will be among the 15 games that provide an opportunity to advance the NBA’s decision.

“This is going to be an important day for all of us to get that message out,” Schneider said, “so it’s fresh in people’s minds and they’re going to go to the ballot box.”

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