ESPN host Keith Olbermann criticized the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Monday for not moving the Final Four games from Indianapolis after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the religious freedom bill that may allow businesses to discriminate against gay people.
Olbermann called on the NCAA to move the Final Four games and the league’s headquarters from Indianapolis and use its “moral force” against the law.
“It is presented to this nation in the insidious guise expressed in its title, the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act.’ Which is not about freedom, but about the loss of freedom. Which is not about religion, but about discrimination cloaked in religion. Which is not about the restoration of anything, except the hatred and prejudice of 50 or 100 years ago,” Olbermann said of Indiana’s new law.
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement last week saying that while the Final Four will go on in Indiana, the league will “closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
And in a Monday interview, Emmert said that once Indiana lawmakers issue a clarification of the legislation, NCAA leaders will “sit down and make judgments about whether or not it changes the environment for us doing our work and for us holding events.”
This was not enough for Olbermann. He said that the NCAA needs to push back against the law.
“There are times in the history of this country where sports not only influences our destiny, but leads it, and this is such a time,” he said.
He also addressed those who think that sports don’t have anything to do with politics, citing the influence sports sometimes had in pushing back against racism and Jim Crow laws.
“What was Jackie Robinson’s story, if not politics? Do you celebrate Jackie Robinson?” he asked. “Do you celebrate Texas-El Paso 1966? Or the AFL moving the 1965 All-Star Game? Or the pressure the sports leagues of 50 and 60 years ago brought to bear against prejudice in the Southwest and then the South? What were those stories, if not politics?”
Watch the segment below: