While sports and politics have intersected in numerous areas recently, one of the most prominent has been North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which prohibits trans people from using bathrooms different from their birth certificate’s gender and allows for the refusal of services based on sexual orientation. That law led to both the NBA and the NCAA moving events out of the state, and to the state legislature passing an attempted compromise repeal (HB142) Thursday to try and meet an NCAA deadline. Many have criticized the specific provisions of this attempted compromise, though, and some of that criticism is coming from the sports media world. In particular, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols went in hard on it on The Jump Thursday. Here’s the start of her segment, where she talks about how sports has been key in forcing change here:
Nichols then discussed the problems she sees with this new bill, saying “it still leaves in place so much of what has already sent both the NCAA and the NBA scurrying,” and how this could still lead to hotel employees (for example) refusing service to lesbian couples:
She then made an explicit reference to segregation:
“If a restaurant wants to tell someone that he can’t get served because he’s gay, same thing. That’s lunch counters all over again.”
After that, Nichols seems to preemptively try to head off “stick to sports” criticism, saying “No one needs sports leagues to legislate politics, but this isn’t politics. This is a civil rights issue.”
She then wrapped up by saying “This is about the very basics of human decency, and I certainly hope that the sports leagues who have been so effective in using their voice continue to see it that way.”
That’s some strong commentary, but Nichols makes good points, and does well to outline exactly what this new proposal would mean. The NCAA’s response is still very much up in the air, and if they still have a problem with North Carolina’s revised legislation, we’ll likely see much more discussion of this in the sports realm in the coming days.