Don't Play Ball With State of Arizona
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams explained at the time that the organization wanted to "ensure that our championships are free from any type of symbolism that might make someone uncomfortable based on their race."
As such, it is time for the governors of college athletics -- and the officials who control the BCS -- to expand their postseason ban. Arizona should be next, immediately.
The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., should lose the BCS National Championship Game scheduled to be played there next January unless Arizona legislators rescind soon and for good an anti-immigration law they just passed that gives police the right to stop and search for documents anyone police suspect of being in the country illegally.
After all, that law means racially profiling people who appear to be Hispanic, no matter what Arizona lawmakers claim. That means making an entire group of people, as the NCAA spokesman said, uncomfortable in Arizona because of their heritage. That's unquestionably wrong.
We all should be uncomfortable with that, however. As Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles wrote earlier this month, comparing the law to Nazi Germany: "The Arizona legislature just passed the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law. The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources."
That is why thousands of people from all over the country, according to news reports, marched on Sunday in Phoenix and spoke out for a third consecutive day against the new law. The law is an affront to so many on so many different levels.
As a result, college sports' overseers shouldn't be alone in boycotting Arizona. The pros should join too.
The NFL should toss out a bid it received recently from Arizona to host the Super Bowl in 2015. The PGA Tour, which held two events in Arizona in February, should scratch any Arizona stops from its 2011 calendar to prove it is more inclusive than it appears.
And Major League Baseball -- out of respect to the 29 percent of its players, four managers, one general manager and one owner who are Hispanic or from Latin America -- should certainly heed the call of an embryonic protest movement in Arizona and pull its 2011 All-Star Game from the Diamondbacks' stadium in Phoenix.
Any sports organization that has tournaments to award around the country should eliminate Arizona from consideration. There are 48 other states that are more worthy.
Sports should be about inclusion, after all, not exclusion. Isn't that why Major League Baseball pats itself on the back for correcting a half-a-century-plus wrong of denying men of color from playing its game? Isn't that what made the most remarkable NCAA basketball championship game the 1966 triumph of an integrated Texas Western team over a segregated Kentucky club?
Isn't that what makes global sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup that much more attractive, the fact that people of all hues and walks of life are able to participate?
Sports always should be about the promotion of fair play; they should never reward unfairness.
We should be reminded of that this year more than ever before, what with the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa next month.
Time was when South Africa, a nation no less obsessed with sports than the United States, was a pariah in the athletic world, and rightfully so. That was during its exercise of the inhumane racist policy called apartheid that brutally discriminated against its indigenous majority black populous.
FIFA, soccer's world governing body, suspended South Africa from international participation in 1963. A year later, the International Olympic Committee withdrew its invitation to South Africa for the 1964 Summer Olympics. In 1970, the IOC expelled South Africa from the Olympic movement altogether.
Arthur Ashe successfully protested to get the 1970 South Africa Davis Cup team held from competition and after the 1974 tournament barred from further competition.
Many other globally contested sports followed suit. It wasn't until after the end of apartheid in 1991, and a one-time black South African boxer turned freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, was released from what seemed like a life in prison, that South Africa was admitted to play again with the rest of the civilized world.
There are some observers who have argued that the worldwide boycott of South Africa sports teams aided the armed struggle for freedom in South Africa. That's the kind of power and influence sports can have.
So far, South Carolina lawmakers apparently don't mind being so obstinate. They appear more willing to lose millions of dollars in revenues the NCAA basketball tournament could bring to South Carolina, which has been strapped by the recession, rather than stop insulting a large part of its citizenry. They are nothing short of asinine.
"Perhaps USC [University of South Carolina] did not take seriously a South Carolina NAACP boycott -- supported by the NCAA -- that blocks postseason tournaments with predetermined sites from being played in the state," columnist Ron Morris at The State in Columbia, S.C., wrote last month. "That boycott was initiated in 2000 when the Confederate flag was moved from atop the Statehouse dome to the grounds below.
"The flag flies there today, flapping in the face of progress for the state of South Carolina and the city of Columbia, and continuing to stand in the way of such economic windfalls as an NCAA tournament."
"Sadly," Morris concluded, "that's the way our legislators want it."
Arizona quite some time ago became a major destination for major sporting events with the Fiesta Bowl, which has been around since 1971. It hosted its first Super Bowl in 1996 and in 1998 became part of the national college football championship rotation. With the opening of the retractable-roof, rolling turf University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006, it hosted a second Super Bowl two years ago.
Now Arizona is worthy of hosting nothing for the rest of the country, just like South Carolina.