Baseball Team Banned over 'Religious Freedom' Law


Baseball, politics, and religion, three of the most popular topics for Americans to follow. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, residents in New York and Mississippi can talk about all three at the same time as his travel ban stops New York team from traveling to Mississippi.

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Stony Brook is a public university located on Long Island in New York. They were scheduled to play the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg on February 23-25. Due to a travel ban imposed in 2016 by Governor Cuomo, the Stony Brook baseball team will not be able to fulfill their obligation.

The travel ban stems from a religious freedom law that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law on April 5th, 2016. House Bill 1523 allows businesses to refuse service to anyone based on their religious beliefs. On that same day, New York Governor Cuomo banned all non-essential state travel to the state of Mississippi.

This is the second time that Stony Brook has been unable to make a trip to play Southern Miss. In 2014, snowstorms in the Northeast prevented travel down to Mississippi. The Athletic Directors and Managers agreed to the 2018 matchup without being aware of the New York ban. Stony Brook discovered the travel ban applied to their trip to Mississippi just a few weeks ago, leaving USM frantically searching for a replacement.

Southern Miss was able to fill the opening in their schedule with a tournament to be played at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas. The three games were added at a cost. Southern Miss baseball is very popular and losing the home ticket sales puts a dent in their budget. Now they lose those ticket sales and have to pay to send their team out of state.

The college student-athletes on both teams learned important life lessons. While we are called the United States of America, we do not all have the same ideologies.  One state can pass a law that contradicts another state's law. The great thing is that we don't all have to have the same rules. They also learned that some politicians like to wield their power at the expense of others. Governor Cuomo showed that he is one of those politicians.

Sports should be above these petty differences between states. President Carter's presidency will be forever remembered for boycotting the 1980 Olympics.  The only people punished were the athletes. Now Governor Cuomo is doing the same thing to athletes from his state Universities by banning their travel to Mississippi and other states he deems unworthy.