Skip to content

Baseball broke Republicans’ ‘go woke, go broke’ slogan

Despite the GOP hate, Dodgers led Major League Baseball in attendance

Protesters hold signs at a Catholics for Catholics event in response to the Dodgers' Pride Night event including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence prior to the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 16 in Los Angeles.
Protesters hold signs at a Catholics for Catholics event in response to the Dodgers' Pride Night event including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence prior to the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 16 in Los Angeles. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

For the past couple of years, “go woke, go broke” has become one of Republicans’ favorite catch phrases against businesses or entities that were perceived to take liberal positions. Earlier this year, Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles sponsored legislation by the same name. But now that the Major League Baseball regular season is complete, there are facts to refute one of Republicans’ highest-profile examples.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers got attention for inviting, disinviting, and then reinviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as part of the team’s annual Pride Night. The Sisters is a charity that describes itself as an “order of queer and trans nuns” who are promoting human rights, but offends many through mockery of Catholic symbols.

“It tells you everything you need to know about the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and the media,” GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told Fox News in June. “They are no longer demanding tolerance, they now promote intolerance and even hatred of Christianity.”

In mid-June, conservatives reveled in an online video that showed the Dodgers highlighting the Sisters before the game to a largely empty stadium. “BREAKING: Never seen @Dodgers stadium so empty as they honor the demonic,” tweeted high-profile worship leader Sean Feucht, who has partnered with Charlie Kirk’s Talking Point USA to host worship services at state capitols around the country. “Yet thousands of believers are protesting outside! The message from America has been clearly sent again: YOU GO WOKE, YOU GO BROKE!”

Post-game coverage from conservative media featured a similar take.

“The Dodgers lost tens of thousands in revenue and embarrassed themselves to appease the far left,” according to the headline at Clay Travis’s OutKick. “The lack of attendance almost certainly cost the team tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, if not significantly more,” said the article, which included multiple mid-game photos of some empty seats. “The team lost out on merchandise sales, food and beverage and parking revenue from fans who declined to use their seats or avoided the game.”

“Beyond the decreased revenue from one game, the team’s suffered possible irreparable damage to their reputation,” according to OutKick.

But “possible” is doing a lot of work in that sentence because the Dodgers ain’t going broke anytime soon.

The pre-game video showing a smattering of fans inside the park when the Sisters were highlighted was not compelling. Dodger fans notoriously arrive late and leave early, in part due to traffic. Conservative protests outside the stadium that day likely didn’t help the arrival process. And even if people don’t attend or aren’t sitting in their seats, the team has already pocketed the money from ticket sales.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are brought onto the field for Pride Night before a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 16 in Los Angeles. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The Dodgers posted $581 million in revenue in 2022 and have an estimated worth of $4.8 billion, according to Forbes. So the potential to lose “tens of thousands of dollars” on a single game isn’t a big deal, particularly because there’s no evidence the team suffered financially through the rest of the year.

The Dodgers led all of Major League Baseball in attendance for the 10th consecutive year, and it wasn’t even close. The Dodgers averaged 47,371 fans per game in 2023, according to ESPN, more than 6,000 fans per game more than the second-highest team in attendance, the New York Yankees. The Dodgers were also the third-biggest draw for a road team (behind the Chicago Cubs and Yankees), so their popularity isn’t unique to L.A., and fans around the country don’t appear to be boycotting them, at least not effectively.

Overall, Major League Baseball is thriving, despite drawing conservative ire for more than two years.

Republicans have been upset since at least 2021, when MLB decided to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver after Georgia Republicans passed a law to make it more difficult to vote. And teams beyond the Dodgers received criticism for their own Pride Nights highlighting the LGBTQ community. And yet, baseball just experienced its largest growth in 30 years. Total attendance was up nearly 10 percent from 2022, and spectators set streaming records (12.7 billion minutes on MLB.TV).

It’s also disingenuous to portray the Dodgers and other teams as anti-Christian. Faith Nights are common at many baseball ballparks. The Dodgers’ “Christian Faith and Family Night” in late July was portrayed as a pressured response to the Pride Night controversy, but Faith Nights were a staple before COVID-19. The Dodgers even had their first-ever Catholic Night in 2016.

Faith Nights are also often more involved than the pre-game highlighting of the Sisters. Faith Nights often include a post-game pseudo-church service featuring worship music and testimonies from Christian players and coaches. Dodgers’ stars Clayton Kershaw and Max Muncy were a part of this year’s event. The Washington Nationals’ Faith Day was Sept. 2. More than half of major league teams have Christian Faith nights, according to Christianity Today.

So while “go woke, go broke” might be catchy, and playing the victim can help politicians and grifters raise money, the financial impact of so-called “woke” decisions can often fall far short of what’s advertised on social media.

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

Recent Stories

Eight questions for elections in five states on Tuesday

Paul Pelosi attacker sentenced to 30 years in prison

House Over-slight Committee — Congressional Hits and Misses

Biden kicks off outreach to Black voters as protest threat looms at Morehouse

Editor’s Note: Stock market no panacea for Biden, Democrats

Photos of the week ending May 17, 2024