Charles Barkley thinks the Final Four should pack up and leave Indiana over the state’s controversial new religious freedom law that opponents say will allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals.
The former NBA star-turned-basketball analyst has been working for CBS this year, giving commentary on the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This week, Barkley spoke up against Indiana’s new law, saying the state should not be able to host events such as the Final Four.
In a statement issued to Sports Illustrated on Friday, Barkley said his opposition to the law came down to speaking out against discrimination.
“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley said in the statement. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”
The law, Senate Bill 101, was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday and has come under attack from many different individuals and groups. They claim that the law will give businesses the power to determine who they will and will not do business with.
While Charles Barkley wants Indiana to lose the Final Four over the religious freedom law, others have flexed their economic muscle as well. Gen Con, the gamer convention hosted in Indianapolis, said it would consider moving to a new city, taking the millions of dollars of economic impact with it.
Salesforce, one of the biggest employers in Indianapolis, had also put pressure on the state not to pass the law. Angie’s List is also reconsidering a $40 million expansion in the state.
“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none,” said Angie’s List co-founder and chief executive officer Bill Oesterle said Saturday, “and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents.”
Other sports teams have joined in as well. Herb Simon, the owner of the Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, said he is opposed to the law.
“The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis. Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be. “
If Charles Barkley’s wish comes true, it could be quite a blow for Indiana, which is set to host the Final Four in 2021 unless the religious freedom law gets in the way. Indianapolis is also home to the NCAA headquarters.
[Image via AL.com]