Politics And Sports About To Collide In Utah

Sports could hit back with economic sanctions and reversals.

A political want in Utah is about to collide with the world of sports which could hamper the ambitions of Salt Lake City and Utah business and political leaders to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. A bill, HB302, has come out of committee and is headed to the Utah House floor which would bar transgender athletes from playing girl school sports. Should the bill gain support in the Utah House and move on, it will definitely be on a collision course with the International Olympic Committee. It also could have an impact on the thinking of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Basketball Association about keeping major events such as a men’s college basketball tournament or the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. The same could hold true for Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League. Utah Republican Representative Kera Birkeland, claims her bill would ensure fairness in women’s sports by making sure female athletes aren’t competing against those identified as male at birth. Utah is not the only state pushing transgender sports legislation. Idaho did pass a similar law last year but it was blocked by a federal court and the case is being heard. Including Utah, 24 states are considering transgender legislation.

One of President Joe Biden’s first acts upon taking office on January 20th was an executive order that prohibits discrimination in school sports based on gender identity. The NCAA has awarded Utah two regional women’s gymnastics tournaments and the 2022 skiing championship event. Utah is also scheduled to host a first- and second round – of the men’s basketball tournament regional in 2024. The NBA has scheduled its 2023 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. The NCAA and NBA pulled events out of North Carolina because of a 2016 transgender bathroom law which was partially repealed in 2017.

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