The NCAA on Sunday designated Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee as host schools for the regions of softball, carrying its postseason tournament to three states that have passed laws requiring athletes to participate in interschool sports based on of their sex at birth.
Legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in interschool sports was introduced in dozens of states this year. Republican governors have signed such bills in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. The laws of Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia also cover college sports teams.
Supporters of banning transgender athletes in sport claim that athletes born to male have physiological advantages over those born to females. Opponents believe the laws are discriminatory and part of the backlash by cultural conservatives against accepting transgender people. The issue is now part of the partisan division of the country, with former President Donald Trump speaking out in favor of the bans.
The NCAA allows transgender women to compete if they have been on testosterone-suppressing drugs for at least a year.
The NCAA Board of Governors released a statement last month saying it “strongly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to participate in college sports,” and warned that the future organization would NCAA events could be affected by state laws.
“When determining the venue for the championships, NCAA policy states that only locations where hosts can commit to providing a safe, healthy and non-discriminatory environment should be selected,” the board said. “We will continue to monitor these situations closely to determine whether the NCAA Championships can be held in a manner that is welcoming and respectful of all participants.”
The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Regional action begins on Friday.
The NCAA typically selects regional baseball and softball venues based on team performance, quality of facilities, and financial considerations. This year, potential sites have been predetermined as each must be assessed for its ability to meet NCAA COVID-19 protocols.
Oklahoma City hosts the Women’s College World Series each year. This year’s event kicks off on June 3. The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. It’s unclear whether the state’s GOP-controlled Senate will pass the bill, but Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he supports the concept of athletes competing only against those who are same-sex at birth. .
The World Series generates over $ 20 million for Oklahoma City each year. The State of origin is generally well represented. Oklahoma won four national titles, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both qualified for the event in 2019. Oklahoma is the No. 1 seed in this year’s overall standings, while Oklahoma State is # 5.
The NCAA withdrew games from the North Carolina basketball tournament in 2017 in response to a bill requiring transgender people to use toilets based on their sex at birth, not their gender identity. The law was then repealed.