The National Collegiate Athletic Association today announced that sites wanting to host NCAA events, from Men’s basketball to Women’s Gymnastics and more, must certify that their facilities do not discriminate with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity. The new policy not only affects the physical site of the event, but locations such as hotels, restaurants, etc. that will accommodate or participate in the event. From the questionnaire that prospective hosts will need to complete:
The board’s decision follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While proponents of the laws focus on how they protect religious beliefs, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.
The board’s decision reaffirms the NCAA’s commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead and fans engage.
Sample questions include, “Has your city, county/parish, and/or state passed anti-discrimination laws that are applicable to all persons?,” “Does your city, county/parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms or locker rooms that may affect student-athletes, coaches, administrators, or game officials during the Event?,” and “Does your city, county/parish and/or state have provisions that allow for refusal of accommodations or service to any person?”
We asked former GeorgiaPol contributor Anthony M. Kreis what would happen here in the Peach State. His opinion that an event at the Georgia Dome, which has hosted Men’s championship events would pass muster because of Atlanta’s local anti-discrimination ordinance. A proposed event that would beheld in Cobb county, which does not have a local ordinance, would not.
Today’s announcement comes day after the National Basketball Association decided not to hold its 2017 All-Star game in North Carolina because of that state’s law, known as House Bill 2, dictating bathroom policy for transgendered individuals and trumping local anti-discrimination policies.
How this might affect the ongoing debates over proposed religious liberty laws in Georgia remains to be seen. However, it appears that, at at least in the world of sports, hypothetical threats to leave because of laws affecting civil rights are now actual ones.