NCAA, the New PC Police?

Yesterday the NCAA announced that it is deeply concerned about Indiana’s just-passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and intends to scrutinize Indiana carefully to determine whether the state is fit to host events like the Final Four, scheduled to take place in Indianapolis next week:

The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.

This statement betrays deep ignorance of Indiana’s RFRA, as well as the topic in general. Currently, 29 states have similar legislation in place, so if the NCAA seriously thinks that laws like Indiana’s are somehow incompatible with its principles, it will have a hard time staging events anywhere. It will also need to move, since its headquarters are in Indianapolis. And, of course, the state laws, including Indiana’s, are identical in substance to the federal RFRA. So maybe next year the Final Four will have to be held in Canada.

For a good primer on RFRAs, what they say and why they are needed, see Joe Carter’s web site.

So, when did sports become the epicenter of political correctness? It isn’t just the NCAA. Anyone who reads Sports Illustrated regularly has seen the same phenomenon there. And, while there are honorable exceptions, most sportswriters who have migrated into news have turned out to be leftists. Then, of course, there is Keith Olbermann.

I think part of the explanation may be that people who cover or administer sports for a living are beset by a fear that what they do is trivial. They relieve that fear by associating sports with great social movements. Thus, baseball is significant only because Jackie Robinson once played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and a grown man can follow boxing because Muhammad Ali, a great but somewhat overrated fighter, opposed the Vietnam War and became a Black Muslim.

All of this is annoying to sports fans who don’t need an excuse to enjoy basketball, football, and other sports (even soccer, in Paul’s case) on their own terms. What the athletes themselves make of being in the forefront of the gay supremacy movement, God only knows.