Plenty of institutions that pump millions into Indiana by staging events there have expressed concern about the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing law that ostensibly protects religious freedom by giving business owners the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. The NFL inexplicably has not.
Last year, the NFL spoke out as Arizona closed in on passing a similar law. Arizona eventually opted not to proceed with a plan to legalize the shunning of people who live their private lives in a way that others feel compelled to care about, and to condemn.
This time around, the NFL has said nothing. The league office had no comment on Thursday when PFT specifically asked for a reaction to the new Indiana law, and in nearly 24 hours since then, nothing has emanated from P.R.-obsessed 345 Park Avenue regarding the passage of a law that provides a license to discriminate in a state where an NFL franchise is located, where the Super Bowl has been played and likely will return, and where the Scouting Combine is staged every February.
Others have opted for something other than silence. The NCAA, which soon will hold one of its marquee events in Indianapolis, had this to say about the situation: “The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. 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.”
Likewise, the major gaming convention known as Gen Con threatened to take its business elsewhere if the law passes: “Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”
So why has there been nothing from the NFL? “Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” the league said last year regarding the Arizona proposal.
The NFL’s failure to reiterate that position in relation to the Indiana law suggests that maybe the NFL’s position has changed. If that’s not the case, the sooner the NFL says so, the better.