When we last heard from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, back in February, the governors were said to be “aware of” efforts to ban trans girls and women from school sports and also promised they would continue “to closely monitor... state bills and federal guidelines that impact transgender student-athlete participation.”
Since then, there’s been not a peep from the NCAA, as 29 states have launched efforts similar to a law, currently on hold, that was enacted in Idaho last year. Now, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee have their own anti-trans laws on the books, with more to come. When South Dakota’s Republican lawmakers failed to pass a ban, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed executive orders doing just that.
Last week, Georgia’s Republican lawmakers and governor enacted a law that clearly targets another marginalized group, disenfranchised Black voters who overwhelmingly voted Democrat in the 2020 election and subsequent run-offs. Now, given how the NCAA has shifted from boycotting states that hate on people, just five years ago, to watching and waiting these days, you might think other sports organizations would take the same “wait and see” approach; you know, “be aware... closely monitor” the oppression of people who are a sizable amount of their fan base.
No. MLB didn’t just sit and wait. They stood up and said, “Hold my beer.”
Today Major League Baseball announced it is pulling the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia’s new law restricting voting in that state.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred explained the decision:
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.
That took one week, and the NCAA has done nothing over more than three months as the states that hate trans student-athletes have held hearings on bill after bill and enacted law after law after law.
What are the governors waiting for?
Advocate and athlete Chris Mosier summed it up best in a tweet.
The truth is, there’s no comparison, really: the oppression Black and brown Americans experience is systemic, historic and ongoing, and has consequences that have dominated the lives of generations of Americans. What Georgia did goes beyond the injustice of states that have targeted trans youth by banning them from sports. The changes to Georgia’s voting laws is disenfranchising people from their constitutional rights. That said, the fight for equality and justice for transgender Americans is also important, is intersectional and worth defending.
The NCAA can send a message to governors considering their own laws just as MLB has done. The NCAA should listen to the 500+ cisgender athletes who wrote to them last month, asking the association to stand up to hate and move tournaments out of states banning trans girls and women. They should listen to the 400+ women, nonbinary individuals and organizations who signed a letter saying trans girls are girls and trans women are women, and have every right to be treated equally in life and in sport.
We know this to be true. If the NCAA governors believe it, too, then why won’t they say so?