Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Sports

Leagues have selective outrage over LGBT issues

The NFL helped win a victory Monday over discrimination. You'll excuse transgender people if they're clapping with one hand.

For every cause that becomes popular to support, there is one that turns sports organizations into the Marx Brothers. Groucho, specifically. When it comes to standing up for what you believe, he uttered the most appropriate line.

"These are my principles, and if you don't like them, well, I have others."

In this case, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a "religious liberty" bill critics said would have trampled the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people. He'd been under intense pressure from businesses, Hollywood and the NFL, which threatened to remove Atlanta from the short list for upcoming Super Bowls.

I'm not arguing for or against the NFL's stance. I'm just wondering why the league breaks it out so inconsistently. And it is hardly the only one guilty of selective outrage.

The NBA and NCAA howled last week after North Carolina passed a law limiting LGBT rights. The NBA might move the 2017 All-Star Game away from Charlotte, and the NCAA is threatening to take away future tournament basketball games.

This is the same NBA that is prostrating itself before LGBT-gulag China, which makes Charlotte look like San Francisco. The NBA is like Apple, Coca-Cola, PayPal and too many other businesses.

They'll pontificate about their principles and core values and sanctimoniously pounce on Georgia and North Carolina. Then they'll conduct business as usual in places like Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is punishable by death.

At least nobody's getting executed in Georgia, one of 21 states that have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. The exact statutes vary, but all are problematic to the LGBT community.

One place in particular has no state-wide ban on LGBT discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodation. If you've picked up this newspaper, you live in that state. Despite that, the NFL has had five Super Bowls in Florida since 1998. The College Football Playoff title game will be in Tampa next year. Shouldn't the NBA threaten to move the 2019 NBA Finals away from Orlando if the state keeps codifying inequality?

Okay, that last one's a joke. Sort of like the NCAA's stance in Houston. Remember the furor around last year's Final Four in Indianapolis after Indiana passed a law allowing businesses to refuse to bake wedding cakes for gay couples?

"The NCAA ... and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events," NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

Last November, Houston voters overwhelmingly struck down an ordinance making it harder to discriminate against LGBT people. The focal point was using public bathrooms based on gender identification. In English, that means you have to use the room that matches your biological equipment. That's also a key feature in the Charlotte debate.

Guess where the Final Four is this weekend?

Here's hoping a transgender person doesn't use the wrong bathroom at Houston's NRG Stadium, because the NCAA sure isn't going to bail them out. It said there wasn't enough time to even consider moving the event.

God created the heaven and earth in six days, but the NCAA can't move a Final Four with only five months notice? And lest we forget, guess where the next Super Bowl is?

Same city, same bathrooms.

Different NFL than Georgia has been dealing with.

Texans owner Bob McNair even donated $10,000 to the bathroom-ordinance movement. He rescinded it when his donation became public. Even the supposed bad guys in this battle can't keep their principles straight.

As the Final Four ends, TBS should show something that truly illustrates how leagues are handling these battles. Instead of One Shining Moment, it should show clips of a Marx Brothers movie.

I suggest Horse Feathers.

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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