Texas governor warns NFL is ‘walking on thin ice’ with ‘bathroom bill’ warning

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Texas governor Greg Abbott – Photograph: Tony Gutierrez/AP
by Guardian Sport  |  Feb 16, 2017
  • NFL says ‘bathroom bill’ could preclude Texas from hosting Super Bowl

  • Governor to NFL: concentrate on football and ‘get the hell out of politics’

The NFL sharpened its warning to Texas on Friday about a ‘bathroom bill’ targeting transgender people, suggesting for the first time that the football-crazed state could miss out on hosting another Super Bowl if the proposal is enacted.

“If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in response to an email question about the Texas bill.

The veiled threat prompted blowback from Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott, who told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday that the NFL “is walking on thin ice” by wading into social issues.

“The NFL needs to concentrate on playing football and get the heck out of politics,” Abbott said in a criticism of the league’s choice to allow players to kneel during the national anthem. “For some low-level NFL adviser to come out and say that they are going to micromanage and try to dictate to the state of Texas what types of policies we’re going to pass in our state, that’s unacceptable.

“We don’t care what the NFL thinks and certainly what their political policies are because they are not a political arm of the state of Texas or the United States of America. They need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.”

The comments marked Abbott’s second response in three days to McCarthy’s statement following a tweet on Saturday that invoked the NFL’s handling of the Deflategate scandal to cast the league in a

Although the NFL released a statement about inclusiveness earlier this month prior to the Super Bowl in Houston, it didn’t address whether the bill could put future such events at risk for the state.

The NFL has selected future Super Bowl sites through 2021, none of which are in Texas. Dallas hosted the game in 2011 and three Super Bowls have been played in Texas since 2004, which is second only to Florida.

Under the Texas bill, people would be required to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. It’s similar to a North Carolina law that prompted the NCAA to pull seven championship events from that state last year and is backed by Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, a powerful figure in the state who had cited the Houston Super Bowl as proof that big events will stick around.

Abbott had previously been quieter on the proposal and, noticeably, never mentioned bathrooms while laying out his legislative agenda last month.

Following the NFL statement, Patrick’s office signaled it was remaining firm and was committed to “making sure that every Texan is welcomed” at sporting events.

“Despite persistent misinformation in the media, under Senate Bill 6, all Texas teams will be able to set their own policies at the stadiums and arenas where they play and hold their events. There is no conflict with the NFL’s statement today and Senate Bill 6,” Patrick spokesman Alejandro Garcia said.

Spokespeople for the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

The NCAA has declined comment so far since the Texas bill was filed last month. Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA men’s Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the women’s NCAA Final Four in April.

Unlike the North Carolina law, the Texas proposal stops short of some provisions the NCAA singled out when defending its decision to relocate events last fall. That includes language that invalidatses local equal-rights ordinances, although there is separate legislation in Texas that could have similar effects.

The NFL has issued similar warnings before about state legislation that critics say invites discrimination. In 2015, Georgia Republican governor Nathan Deal vetoed a ‘religious liberty’ bill that the NFL suggested could result in Atlanta being passed over for Super Bowls.

Source: Texas governor warns NFL is ‘walking on thin ice’ with ‘bathroom bill’ warning | Sport | The Guardian

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