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NCAA decision raises questions

Daniel Krugman, Sports Editor

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A collegiate athlete is playing for the national championship but can’t use the bathroom inside the stadium. Later, they are denied food from the vendor. Both are completely legal.

When the North Carolina state government passed the House Bill 2, which prohibits counties and cities to pass laws that protect the rights of the LGBT community and designate bathrooms only to the person’s biological gender, the country– including the sports world– responded quickly.

While the federal Justice Department was filing a lawsuit over the bill, the National Basketball Association was deciding where to move the 2017 All Star game to from Charlotte.

Very few NBA athletes would be oppressed by the North Carolina laws. The decision to move the ceremonial game is only to take a political stand. But, for other organizations, it has to be more than just a stab at the state’s culture and economy.

The group with the largest population of LGBT athletes, and athletes in general, is the NCAA and now it is their turn to reprimand North Carolina. On Sept. 12, the governing body of college athletics announced that they will move seven championships of seven different sports across all three divisions and from the state.

“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships. We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a press release by the organization.

Not far behind was the Atlantic Coast Conference, which four of the biggest universities from North Carolina are a part of. On Sept. 14, the 14 members agreed that they will also move eight of their Division I championships to other locations.

Moving the Division III women’s soccer or Division II baseball championships is far from a detrimental blow to the egos of the lawmakers who passed the HB2 laws or the economy of the state. But, moving these championships should concern them. After more sports championships from other NCAA conferences are moved out, music concerts, an even bigger field for LGBT advocates, and other arts will find new locations.

I have never been a huge activist for the LGBT movement, nor do I consider myself particularly liberal, but when politics interferes with the freedom to play sports, I care. No athlete at any level should be excluded from the facilities that these championship have to offer because of who they are. The decision to move these events was a good decision by the NCAA because they are showing that they are keeping to their policies.

Sadly, these laws and moving championships are only the surface level of how the LGBT community and the athletes in it are treated.

In a 2011 report from Pennsylvania State University, outlined on the NCAA’s resource center for the LGBT community, researching the campus inclusion across the nation, these professors found that LGBT athletes are some of the most disadvantaged of any group on a college campus.

“LGBQ student-athletes generally experienced a more negative climate than their heterosexual peers, which adversely influenced their athletic identities and reports of academic success” NCAA Student-Athlete Campus Climate Survey,” the climate survey said.

As a sports community, in the school and around the state, we need to look at how we treat LGBT athletes and if they are comfortable in our schools’ climate. For sports that commonly have more gay or lesbian athletes, we need to make sure they are comfortable at away games and in the locker room setting.

Before they are a minority, they are humans, and should be able to enjoy sports like everyone else.

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