By Tynan Collins
A statement by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy implies that future Super Bowls in Texas could be in jeopardy. This is due to a recent bathroom law that may be passed in that state. The proposed law prevents transgender people from accessing bathrooms that are not the listed sex on their birth certificates. The exact words of the statement in regards to Texas stated, “If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events”. McCarthy went on to say, “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.”
Texas has a long history of hosting the Superbowl, which they could end up tarnishing through this situation, and the financial prospects are even scarier. In 2017 alone, the Super Bowl was estimated to make the Houston area a net benefit of $350 million dollars. Not only that, but it is suspected that the bill itself could cost the state billions if passed. This alone could be incentive for the Texans to hold off on passing such a bill. The threat is made all the more potent by the fact that the NFL hosted the Superbowl there this year and do not have them scheduled to host it again in the next four years. The Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick, who is a major proponent of the bathroom bill, reportedly stated his disbelief that the law would have economic backlash.
This issue has been causing controversy in the states even before coming to a head with this climactic clash in the sports world. Strangely enough, this is not the first time that the sports world has gotten so politically involved as well. In one case, the NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona when the state government refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday. They also threatened to move the Super Bowl from Arizona in 2014 when the state had a bill on the floor that would allow businesses to refuse to serve gay people for religious reasons. A similar bill in Indiana almost caused the NCAA to move its Final Four from Indiana to another state. The Indiana bill was changed, however, and the Final Four was still held there.
Ultimately, Texas governor Jan Brewer has decided to veto the bill, but there is still wariness between the NFL and the government of Texas. An earlier statement by the host committee of the NFL stated, “We do not support this legislation.” Sports have recently been having an intense connection to politics, from recent Super Bowl ads to these recent threats to pull games. A similar situation has taken place in North Carolina, where another bathroom law caused the NBA to move the location of its showcase 2017 All Star game. This same North Carolina law caused the NCAA to pull events from the state. Whether or not the politics can be agreed with, it may be in the best interest of these states to give in to the demands of these sports organizations.
Recent Super Bowl ads especially highlight what some may consider highly political messages. Ads approved by the organization, in particular those from 2017, have driven home ideas and sentiments of inclusion that have caused quite a stir across the country. With such a highly political atmosphere surrounding the primary moneymaker of the Super Bowl, perhaps it is not that surprising that the NFL and other sports organizations are speaking out against what is going on in the United States right now.