College Football Offseason: Goodell-Selig 2016

Jason Smith weighs in on the impact of major professional sports on state legislation.


This whole gay rights and sports conversation that the Dude and I talked about on my first podcast is getting on another level now.

First, Michael Sam comes out and was treated as….well, as a normal player at the Combine.

Next, the NBA did the equivalent of a YouTube “FIRST!” and saw Jason Collins, an openly gay player, get significant time in the 4th quarter of a Nets game.

Now enter the State of Arizona and SB 1062.

If you’re not familiar with that appellation it is a law that Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s desk just vetoed. To paint the bill in its best light, it was a law aimed at preventing businesses run by religious people from being coerced by the state to provide services in a way that violates their religious convictions. To paint the bill in its worst light, it would have allowed for business owners to refuse services (i.e., discriminate) to gays and lesbians on the basis of religious convictions.

Regardless of your opinion on this law (and regardless of ours, frankly), this is an interesting story from the sports perspective.

Turns out that the state of Arizona has several sports franchises. The MLB issued a statement going on record against the bill. I can’t remember the last time that has happened, if ever. Next, the NFL was also said to be closely monitoring the progress of the bill, though they did not come out against it in the way the MLB did.

Why were they monitoring the bill?  Well, the Super Bowl is in Arizona next year.

Now to my point: sports are (maybe) the most powerful cultural force in our society today. Case in point—after several significant politicians have come out against it and many activist organizations have voiced their outrage over the bill,  the real force that pushed the bill into the veto box might have been sports. At the very least, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brewer decided to veto the bill after all of this outrage AND on the day that rumors surfaced that the NFL might move the Super Bowl if the law passed. In the end, doesn’t it seem like we can safely say that sports played a role in this bill’s demise?

Take a second to let that sink in.

One of the reasons, among many, that a law was vetoed was because the commissioners of the two professional sports leagues who have franchises in the state of Arizona expressed concern over the bill.

I don’t know if that’s good or bad. The real question is the one I always find myself asking in this era of sports:

How the hell did we get here?


Jason Smith

Posted on February 27, 2014, in Blog, NFL, Not Sports. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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