Bill could impact sports, revenue


Thursday morning’s routine yielded few differences in my quaint apartment nestled off East Tipton in Seymour.

Wake up, walk the pup, shower, cook off a couple of eggs, burn some coffee, fill my teal and orange Miami Dolphins mug and log-in to my laptop to check the news.

As my computer booted-up, I switched my phone off from sleep mode so I could see if I missed any messages from the early-risers.

Proceeding the cliche start-up music on the mobile device, I noticed that I had five text messages come in from New York in just a couple of hours.

Each digital message regarded the same material: Indiana’s new ‘religious freedom’ law.

I feverishly dug-up information on the nature of the bill and became familiar with the public’s concerns and interpretations in the fine print.

This is what I have gathered thus far: Even though the bill doesn’t mention sexual orientation, it could give business owners the ability to deny exchanges to gay customers for religious reasons.

In all honesty, it’s not my place to write about my political beliefs — so we will leave my thoughts to the side. I will come from an alternative view.

I collected my information, and moved on to the next question racing through my head.

“How will this impact Indiana sports?”

Ask and thou shall receive.

The NCAA, headquartered in Indianapolis, released a statement about two hours following the final signature on the new law that will be put into place July 1.

“We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said to the public. “We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”

As Hikaru Sulu, played by George Takei (who also has spoken out against the legislation), once said in Star Trek, “phasers locked.”

The NCAA moving out of Indianapolis is on the table, and could become a reality in the coming years if the bill stands.

It did feel like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction by the NCAA, but you have to take them seriously — a lot is at stake.

A state that prides itself on basketball and athletics getting exiled from the governing body of college athletics.

How badly would that hurt?

Forget the upcoming Final Four this week, which is virtually untouchable this far into the March Madness tournament, every national sporting event that would/could be held in Indianapolis now faces purgatory.

Following this year’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis plans on serving as the host of the Women’s NCAA Final Four in 2016.

Looking ahead, Indianapolis has early-round March Madness Men’s games for 2017 on their calender, and will again hold the Final Four in 2021.

Now let’s take a look back: In 2001 the NCAA banned South Carolina from hosting any NCAA championship since they fly the Confederate flag at their state capitol.

Jason Collins, the first NBA player to come out as gay, tweeted at Gov. Mike Pence on Monday.

“@GovPenceIN, is it going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come to the #FinalFour?”

Shots fired.

If Indianapolis loses their rights to host these high-profile events, millions of dollars in revenue will be lost.

Not just that, but the state could also begin sporting a scarlet letter.

This bill may also extend to professional sports in Indianapolis.

While each Super Bowl is planned up until 2018, the Colts may struggle to get a bid in a future championship.

It’s no secret the Colts want to host another Super Bowl.

The NFL has plenty of other issues to handle right now. I doubt they want the attention of having a Super Bowl in Indianapolis in the near future.

In May of 2013, a year prior to Michael Sam publicly announcing he was gay before entering the NFL Draft, Commissioner Roger Goodell made his stance clear.

“I don’t think it will just be tolerated, I think it will be accepted,” Goodell told the press. “These are individuals who play in our league. We’re all different in some fashion, and we’re accepting of our differences. That’s what this is all about.”

Then again, the NFL is one giant money-grabbing hypocrisy. I’ve learned to take anything they say with a grain of salt.

With a number of strong adversaries, things are looking like they will get worse before they get better.

Agree or disagree with the bill, it has the capacity to alter sports as we know them in Indiana.

Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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