Every now and then, sports stand up against inequality or injustice and push for social change. The NCAA needs to continue to stand against discrimination in North Carolina rather than backtracking on its previous stance.
Last year the NCAA, the NBA and the ACC stood up for the LGBT community and boycotted North Carolina and House Bill 2 (HB2), also known as the bathroom bill. The NCAA set up a deadline for the state to repeal the law. If North Carolina didn’t repeal the law, the NCAA threatened to take away championship games in the state.
“I was happy (with the NCAA), but cautious,” said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com. “And my caution, you know, I was right.”
Now, the state has voided HB2 and produced House Bill 142. Many have called the HB142 a repeal of the HB2, but it is nothing of the sort. In fact, the Charlotte Observer said in an editorial that HB142 “repeals HB2 in name only.” As the Observer notes, this new bill was no compromise at all, and it “literally does not do one thing to protect the LGBT community and locks in HB2’s most basic and offensive provision.”
Under the old bill, local governments were not allowed to pass anti-discrimination laws. Under HB142, this is still true.
“Whether it mandates discrimination the way that HB2 did, I think, is essentially irrelevant," Zeigler said. "The fact that you’re legalizing discrimination is bad enough. The state of North Carolina has mandated that discrimination against LGBT be legal, and that it be legal at least until 2021.”
After HB2 was “repealed,” the NCAA changed its stance and said that it will consider North Carolina for NCAA championship sites again.
This most recent season, ASU hosted the NCAA Championship at the University of Phoenix Stadium. These championship games bring in tons of tourists and help local businesses as people from all over the country come to watch the final four teams compete.
Arizona benefitted greatly from hosting one of the NCAA College Football playoff games and the Final Four within the last year.
Hosting this event in a state with no anti-discrimination laws would potentially reward North Carolina for a backwards law while also putting LGBT fans, including college students from ASU and all across the country who travel to watch these final teams play, in an unfair situation.
“The NCAA has endorsed discrimination against LGBT people, and they can spin it however they want, but that’s just what it is,” Zeigler said.
The NCAA doesn’t have the best track record with the LGBT community, but it appeared that the association was going to improve last year after it stood up to HB2. The NCAA even received the LGBT leadership award from Lambda Legal.
“The NCAA allows its members to fire coaches simply for being gay, to expel students for simply being gay and to remove scholarships from athletes simply for being gay,” Zeigler said. “The NCAA has endorsed discrimination since its inception.”
The NCAA needs to stand against HB142 because it does not represent a big enough change from the previous bill.
“Don’t try to tell us that you are inclusive," Zeigler said. "Don’t tell us that you are for equality when you stand behind North Carolina mandating legalized discrimination. Don’t do it. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth.”
The NCAA cannot act as though it is against discrimination and have a tough stance on HB2 and then completely change its mind once North Carolina makes the slightest trivial change. North Carolina's HB2 and HB142 are not the only examples of attempts to legalize discrimination, as demonstrated by the recent introduction of a bill that would ban gay marriage.
“The movement meant absolutely nothing, because given the first opportunity, they went racing right back to the state,” Zeigler said.
If the NCAA actually cares about the LGBT community and is against discrimination, then it should continue to stay out of North Carolina until the state guarantees real equality for the LGBT community.
The Tar Heel state is scared of what these leagues can accomplish with their boycotts. Now, four state representatives have threatened the ACC with another bill that states if the power conference boycotts North Carolina again, then the University of North Carolina and NC State University would be forced to leave the ACC.
This threat is an absolute bluff and is driven by fear of what these sports leagues and conferences can do, and that’s continue positive social change. All college students should be able to feel equal and comfortable at these games.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow @kynan_marlin on Twitter.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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