July 3, 2017
The Kansas City Royals are a privately-owned business, and free to take sponsorship money from any individuals and/or organizations they choose. As a privately-owned business, they are also free to make statements of any kind on any matter they so choose. What the Royals, and other corporations like them, aren’t free to do is make statements contrary to their actions in order to avoid any undesirable consequences.
The Royals have made a decision about which side of a controversial social issue they stand on. Despite their own spin woefully attempting to backtrack, their actions are starkly in contrast with their words.
The Royals have formed a tight partnership with the Jefferson City, Missouri non-profit organization Vitae. The partnership, which the Royals said in a statement to USA Today has been in place since 2016, includes ad spots on the Royals’ radio network as well as video board advertisements during games at Kauffman Stadium.
Additionally, the Royals have taken part in a promotional effort for Vitae that involved an essay contest. The contest was open to elementary school children, and Royals game tickets were the prize.
Vitae is controversial because of its stance on women’s access to healthcare, including abortion. The Royals had to be aware of the contentious nature of selling advertising space/time to the organization prior to closing the deal. As previously stated, it’s their right as a privately-owned business to sell that time and/or space to anyone they choose. It might have been wiser to avoid any involvement whatsoever in matters that divide its fan base, but the contracts were signed regardless.
The Royals then took the next step to cement their position on the matter of a woman’s right to make her own decisions when they refused to make similar advertising sales to a group on the opposite end of the spectrum. According to a press release from UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy group, the Royals rejected the ads proposed by UltraViolet.
The Royals then had the audacity to include in their statement about their relationship with Vitae that,
…as a general manner of practice, the club takes no official position on culturally sensitive issues.