An unforgettable 2021-22 season has culminated in a national champion being crowned. This time, that national champion turned out to be the South Carolina Gamecocks which claimed its first national title since 2017. Both of its national championships it has won both came in the Dawn Staley era.
And the championship was won at Target Center in Minneapolis where four Minnesota Lynx championship banners currently adorn its rafters.
Then there is the matter of where upcoming Final Fours are slated to take place.
One of those Final Fours is slated to be in Dallas at the American Airlines Center – home of the Dallas Mavericks. In fact, that Final Four happens to be next year’s.
The NCAA is plugging next season’s Final Four as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. It is also hyping up how it was in Dallas a few years ago that the Gamecocks won its first national championship by defeating Mississippi State by a final of 67-55 and that the Bulldogs pulled off the upset over UConn that ended the Huskies’ 111-game winning streak.
While all of that may sound fine and dandy, there is a big problem with holding next year’s Final Four in Dallas – and that is it will be held in the state of Texas.
The same Texas that will happily rake in all the money that it will make off of the Final Four (and yes, the women’s Final Four has proven to be a moneymaker) is the same Texas that has a governor in Greg Abbott who is hellbent in restricting access to the vote, restricting access to certain books that make him uncomfortable and – restricting access to abortions.
A state that has proven its undying zeal for wanting to keep women “in the kitchen” as it were is not a state that should get to make money off women for its athletic achievements.
Remember last year when the state of Georgia passed a highly restrictive voter suppression bill the year Atlanta was slated to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game? MLB’s Black and Latino players likely wanted nothing to do with a state whose government sees the Black or Latino body as nothing more than objects for entertainment but maintains zero respect for the Black or Brown brain.
MLB eventually did something it rarely does nowadays – the right thing – and moved the All-Star Game out of Georgia and to Denver, Colorado – a city and state that are also diverse thanks to its huge Hispanic population. Also – MLB had no problems yanking its All-Star out of Atlanta only a few months prior to the festivities.
Restricting access to the polls to ensure only voters who one wants to vote cost money for the Atlanta area and the state of Georgia as a whole. It was another sign of how the Atlanta area’s biggest issue is how it is constantly being held back by the state the Black Mecca calls home.
Dallas is in a similar pickle as the ATL was. Dallas is one of many diverse, progressive economic engines in a state that has little to no respect for those diverse, progressive economic engines that are the heartbeats of the state. We have a year before the American Airlines Center is slated to be the site where a 2023 national champion will cut down its hallowed nets.
But the NCAA needs to send a message to Texas just as MLB sent a message to Georgia last year – quit attempting to limit human rights in an effort to satisfy some sick, authoritarian, anti-Black, anti-Brown, anti-woman fetish or it will hit the state dearly in the wallet. Granted, given how the NCAA was slow to move on finally going in the direction of equality in terms of the two basketball tournaments, it will have to be us to apply pressure to Indianapolis to do the right thing and move the Final Four. Future renditions are slated to emanate from cities such as Tampa, Phoenix and Cleveland – three cities that are in states that have also done questionable anti-human rights things as of late. Those Final Fours should possibly be looked at as well.
In fact, there is added pressure for the NCAA because next year’s men’s Final Four is slated to take place at NRG Stadium in Houston – another diverse, progressive economic engine for that state. Imagine if an announcement occurred where the NCAA announced because of Texas’ increasingly oppressive edicts on voting rights and reproductive rights that next year’s women’s and men’s Final Fours were being moved to states that actually respects those rights. For example – move next year’s men’s Final Four to Minneapolis at US Bank Arena and the women’s Final Four to the United Center in Chicago.
The Lone Star State has a slogan – Don’t Mess with Texas. Tell Texas to stop messing with basic human rights, then we can talk.