NCAA sends mixed messages on trans rights with championship sites

·2 min read

The day the Diamond Hogs clinched the Southeastern Conference Championship, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Arkansas as one of its Division I baseball championship sites.

Why it matters: Hosting the games stands to be an economic boon for NWA while also further marginalizing transgender people who live in the Natural State.

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Context: In April, NCAA stated it would only consider "locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination" for championship games.

  • Yet softball regionals and super-regionals were held at UA and baseball regionals are now planned, following the enactment of laws that block trans girls from playing women's sports as part of a record number of bills targeting trans youth.

Money talks: A 2019 study by UA's Center for Business and Economic Research showed the area received $3.6 million in tourism benefits for similar regional games hosted here.

  • Hosting the games now will likely provide financial help to area hotels, restaurants and the employees who work for them as they work to recover from the past year.

What they're saying: "The NCAA should be ashamed of themselves for violating their own policy by choosing to hold championships in states that are not healthy, safe, or free from discrimination for their athletes," Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president, said in a May 17 statement.

  • The statement came after the NCAA announced championship host sites for regional softball tournaments. NCAA has not responded to Axios' requests for comment on the most recent announcement.

  • Joe Steinmetz, UA's chancellor, stated the university's position against all forms of harassment and discrimination, noting concern "about recent legislation that has impacts on the LGBTQ community."

Of note: Steinmetz's statement is focused on the university as an educational institution and omits any reference to Razorback athletics.

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