The governing body for intercollegiate sports will strike a significant blow to North Carolina due to the state’s anti-LGBTQ law: On Monday night, the NCAA announced it will pull its championship games and matches out of the state — joining the NBA, which moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, to New Orleans in August.
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans, and everyone taking part in our championships."
North Carolina’s law overturned and bans local laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations, and bans trans people from using the bathroom for their gender identity in schools and government buildings. The NCAA cited both of these aspects of the law in justifying its decision to move its games — and it’s just the latest in a growing number of businesses, which are under pressure from LGBTQ advocates, to do so.
LGBTQ organizations and advocates have called on businesses to pull out of North Carolina
The NCAA is just one of the many individuals and organizations that have pulled their business out of the state in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law. Previously, PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and even Bruce Springsteen announced similar moves. The LGBTQ advocacy group HRC also secured signatures from more than 160 business leaders in a letter calling on North Carolina to repeal its law.
LGBTQ organizations say business resistance to discriminatory laws is crucial to the future of the movement.
“Whether you're a Democratic governor or a Republican governor, virtually without exception, goal No. 1 is to keep jobs in your state and to attract new jobs that you don't currently have. That is one thing that is shared between conservative governors, liberal governors, moderate governors,” Chad Griffin, the president of HRC, previously told me. “So the increase in business [engagement and lobbying against these laws] has been key to our success, and I think it will be key to our success as we engage in these battles in the future.”
The NBA and NCAA’s decisions also came after pressure from some sports pundits. In April, Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel argued:
[The law] uses the guise of bathroom concerns to deny certain rights to gay and transgender people, and effectively greenlights discrimination toward them.
What does that have to do with sports? Not a lot. Only that many of our top sports officials have so far turned a blind eye when taking action could mean a lot. I'm speaking of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who can move to take next year's NBA All-Star Game away from Charlotte. I'm speaking of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who can urge owners to change the site of their meetings in [North] Carolina next month. And I'm speaking of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who can seek to change the site of basketball tournament games scheduled for there next year.
Since it's never too late to do the right thing, here's hoping all those guys may yet lead by showing lawmakers in [North] Carolina and other states considering such measures that their bigotry has a price.
Here's hoping they come to understand what smarter people have often said: that prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged.
For LGBTQ groups, this is crucial: If equality isn’t enough of a reason to change your discriminatory laws, maybe some pain to your bottom line will be.
To learn more about North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law, read Vox’s explainer.