Enormous news broke last week when it was announced that an Arizona bill that would allow business owners to deny potential customers who are part of the LGBT community was passed by the state legislature. Rumors of action from the NFL are beginning to pop up because Super Bowl XLIX is currently slated to be played in Glendale, Ariz. Though the NFL is becoming a more progressive league when it comes to these social issues, taking the Super Bowl away from Arizona because of this bill would be fighting fire with fire, and that is not a good idea.
It’s important to note that Gov. Jan Brewer still has to sign this bill (SB 1062) into law, but the current and potential backlash is looking very heated. The NFL is taking great strides forward in making sure gay athletes are welcomed in football, but that doesn’t mean Roger Goodell has to move the country’s largest sporting event. In doing so, the issue would only grow to be more lethal, and there is no progress to be made in refusing to take the Super Bowl to a state because of its laws.
Now that doesn’t mean the NFL would need to sit in silence. I wouldn’t encourage that. As a league, it would be acceptable to talk about the progression of the league and its unwillingness to agree with a discrimination law, but there’s no need to back away completely.
If the NFL moved the Super Bowl away from Arizona because of this discrimination bill, it would undoubtedly need to face questions in the coming years about a possible invisible standard when it comes to the league’s association with states. Just for example: Super Bowl L is currently slated to be played in San Francisco, Calif., where recreational marijuana legalization is up in the air. There would surely be opponents of sending teams and large crowds to a state that allows the use of marijuana. It’s very controversial.
But allowing the Super Bowl to be played at its current location in Arizona, the NFL, at least in the eyes of many, would be the “bigger man” in a fight for social equality. No matter where you stand on the issue of discrimination against the LGBT community, it’s time to realize that this battle can’t be fought and won by means of attacks and counter-attacks.
Taking next year’s Super Bowl elsewhere would apply a certain level of intolerance that is becoming less and less attractive today in this country. It would be a poor move on the NFL’s part to try fighting fire with fire. Instead, the league should affirm its stance on this issue and go forward with its slated Super Bowl in Arizona.