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NFL issues veiled threat against proposed anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ in Texas

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Future Super Bowls could be affected.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
NRG Stadium in Houston was the site of Sunday’s Super Bowl.
USA TODAY Sports

The state of Texas is considering whether to push an anti-transgender law -- a so-called “bathroom bill” — similar to the one in North Carolina, and the NFL has indicated it would not be a fan.

When the Houston Chronicle asked the NFL to comment on the proposed bill promoted by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that would force transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex on their birth certificate it got this response:

"The NFL embraces inclusiveness," spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email response. "We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard."

Sunday’s Super Bowl was held in Houston and the next four are in Minnesota, Georgia, Florida and California, so the earliest the game could be brought back to Texas (likely in Dallas) would be 2022. The NFL’s response was a shot across the bow to Texas legislators considering a bill.

HB2 in North Carolina has been an economic and PR disaster for the state and cost the Republican governor his job in the last election. Why Texas would consider such a folly is head-scratching. HB2 has already forced the NCAA and NBA to cancel events in North Carolina. Both entities would also not look kindly on a similar Texas bill.

The NFL has been mostly silent on HB2. The league’s owners went ahead and held meetings in Charlotte despite the bill and it was highly unlikely the Panthers would ever host a Super Bowl. But the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones would love to be a regular part of the Super Bowl rotation.

The statement to the Chronicle could be a nice piece of PR but it does show that sports have a role to play in stopping discrimination from being enacted into law. Last year, the NFL opposed a “religious freedom” bill in Georgia that was later vetoed amd Atlanta soon after was awarded the 2019 Super Bowl. Texas is host to a lot more sporting events than North Carolina, so any boycotts would have a much larger impact.