This may be the one that stings. In response to North Carolina’s bathroom segregation law, the NCAA has vowed to require any city that wishes to host NCAA events to “provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
Home to the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels, college basketball is sacred in North Carolina, more so perhaps, than anywhere else in the country. As the host body of March Madness and the Final Four, tournaments that often feature either or both of these teams, losing a possibility for home court advantage could be a big hit – in spirit and in revenue.
While the new rule won’t impact sporting events at various colleges, it will apply to sports tournaments and educational events. The language of the rule states: Host cities must prove they can ensure the dignity of everyone involved in the event. They may as well come out and say, “gender open restrooms at the Final Four.”
While some might argue this move isn’t specifically targeting the new NC law related to bathroom use, the NCAA would not be one of these. They clearly stated the new rule comes in direct response to the passage of laws they deem discriminatory. And just so everyone gets the message, they added: the NCAA has a history of using the opportunity to host its events as a way to make clear its values. Talk about a line in the sand.
There’s no getting around it. The NCAA is calling anyone who supports the new NC law discriminatory. They clearly believe they are not only in the right, but also have the most support on this issue. That may be a tough sell in the deep south, where NCAA football and basketball nurture a massive fan following. While most states have not followed North Carolina in enacting a bathroom law, many of their citizens tend to sympathize with the arguments for the law, which they don’t believe is discriminatory in any way.
How will this shake out for the NCAA in North Carolina? Will fans choose their favorite sporting event or remain allied with a law that is being lambasted from all directions?
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of NYC PR Firm 5WPR.