Sports are the anti-discrimination.
All sports, no matter what kind, reward one thing and one thing only: the better performance. Who won the mile at the Olympics? The runner who ran the fastest. Which team won the World Cup? The team that scored the most goals. Who will win the Super Bowl this year? You guessed it: the team with the most touchdowns.
And yet we continue to witness intrusions into our respective epicenters of fairness that turn our stomachs. On Sunday, high school senior Mikey Brannigan ran a 3:51.73 mile at the Paralympics, but he’s not allowed to compete in college athletics because the NCAA will not make an exception to its standardized-test-score requirements – despite Brannigan’s autism. In 2015, over a dozen FIFA officials were indicted on charges of “rampant” corruption, and Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady was issued a four-game suspension for his alleged involvement in tampering with footballs in the AFC Championship game.
And, of course, we will never forget – we don’t want to forget – our own academic, athletic scandal at UNC-Chapeel Hill.
But this time the intrusion comes from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office. In reaction to HB2, the NCAA’s Board of Governors will relocate all seven collegiate championship events from North Carolina in the upcoming year. The University of Vermont and the University of Albany have already canceled games against our university and others within North Carolina. Every single one of those events was an opportunity for the staff, administration and student-body communities of colleges throughout the state to demonstrate what they work so hard for. They were opportunities for students to compete for championships in their home state. They were opportunities to celebrate universal values of discipline, perseverance, the pursuit of excellence.
Instead, McCrory has associated us with states that fly discriminatory symbols on state grounds and schools that use “abusive Native American imagery” – other violations for which the NCAA bans championships.
Our jerseys are stained with hate, exclusion and injustice. For better or worse, fair or unfair, we are associated with HB2. Not hard work, blood, sweat or tears. Not sportsmanship.
Add our voices to the resounding protest all over the country. And we hope the LGBTQ community, our competitors and those following the HB2 controversy know that we believe in fairness and #WeAreNotThis.
Ezra Baeli-Wang is a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill fencing team. Blake Dodge is a member of the UNC-CH track team.