UCLA Rowers in South Carolina? Or Another Exemption for Sports Under CA Laws?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Does UCLA’s women’s rowing team have to pull out of the Clemson Invitational in South Carolina April 19 and 20? California Attorney General Xavier Becerra banned travel to South Carolina; the 10th state California has prohibited state-funded travel to because of perceived discrimination against the LGBTQ communities in those states. Or is another exemption from state law being offered to a sports team, as seems to be a habit with the state powers-that-be?

South Carolina’s offense according to Becerra is that private, faith-based child-placing agencies can deny placement of children with members of the LGBTQ community for religious reasons. Becerra says that falls under 2017’s AB 1887 prohibition for state-funded and state-sponsored travel to discriminating states.

California public college sports teams have been able to wiggle around the ban in a number of ways. Private funding allows for travel to banned states. An exemption is provided if California college teams are competing for championships such as the NCAA basketball tournament in off-limit states.

Since Becerra set the ban for April 15, four days before the South Carolina regatta, at this late date in may be difficult to get private funding or put an exemption in place for the UCLA women. Perhaps it can be done. Maybe the event gets a pass because the race was all ready scheduled before the AG added South Carolina to the list. I suspect state funds have already been spent in preparing for the South Carolina race.

One can debate whether California should set herself up as arbiter of moral values with her sister states, but picking and choosing who gets a pass from a law the state approves weakens respect for laws.

And, in California, sports seem to get a pass.

Why should teams be allowed to travel to the sites of championship play in states under the travel ban? Allowing such travel undercuts the intent of the law.

In fact, if the idea is to punish some states over their lawmaking, why are teams from those state’s public schools allowed to play against California schools in the Golden State. Shouldn’t they be barred as a punishment for what their legislatures have done? A cursory look at the UCLA sports schedule over the last academic year finds a number of examples: the baseball team hosting Oklahoma State and East Carolina; the football team and women’s gymnastics team hosting Oklahoma.

Why do California sports arenas and stadiums time and again get exemptions from CEQA environmental laws that other businesses must deal with?

Laws shouldn’t play favorites. Either get rid of the law or treat all equally.

The Attorney General should act when it comes to the UCLA women rowers or say why not.

My bet is the women get to participate and I hope they do. Then let’s think about how California applies it laws when it comes to sports, or whether we should have certain laws at all.

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