National Football League, NCAA May Turn Back On Indiana For ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

The National Football League isn’t strongly associated with gay rights and challenges to traditional gender norms. However, in an age where such strides in LGBT rights are becoming less and less controversial, even the pinnacle of American masculinity is tackling the issue with a decidedly open mind.

In the face of Indiana governor Mike Pence’s decision to sign a “religious freedom” bill into law, the NFL is discussing the possibility of pulling out of several events planned within the state, reported Indy Star. Although they have not come to a conclusion as to how they will address the issue, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has confirmed that the topic is on their radar.

“We do not have a comment at this time. We are in the process of studying the law and its implications.”

One such NFL event that could be quite an affront to Indiana’s economy if pulled is the Scouting Combine, which has been hosted in Indianapolis since 1987. Visit Indy estimates that the event has a “total economic impact” of $8.27 million. The organization has been trying to move their year-to-year contract to host the event to a more binding one that would last several years, reported Indy Star.

In addition to possible repercussions from the NFL, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA have also expressed that they will be reconsidering their use of Indiana as a host because of the way the law could potentially negatively impact players and employees while they are in the state. NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement expanding on his organization’s current position, reported Indy Star.

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events… 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.”

NFL fans might not be too surprised at this news, considering the league made similar statements when Arizona attempted to pass a similar bill allowing businesses to discriminate against gays based on religious beliefs. The stand the NFL took against the legislation was even speculated as being a driving force behind Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto the bill, reported Forbes. The league’s statement at the time, coming before Brewer’s eventual decision to put a stop to the bill, is almost exactly like the one they released about Indiana’s bill.

Do you think the National Football League will have an impact on Indiana’s “religious freedom” bill?

[Image via Al Bello/Getty Images]