A Red-State Agreement Can Break the NCAA’s Woke Monopoly

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Posted: Jul 02, 2021 9:39 AM
A Red-State Agreement Can Break the NCAA’s Woke Monopoly

Source: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

It’s time to humble the NCAA.

The United States Supreme Court took a glorious – and unanimous – first step recently. In NCAA v. Alston the Court had some good news for us, and some short, sharp shocks for the NCAA. No, explained the Court, the NCAA will not be permitted to bootstrap itself into some super-secret antitrust exemption on the grounds of its shining (even if only it can see the rays) virtue. Nor, it extended, does that self-admired shimmer allow the NCAA to place student-athletes in indentured servitude for its greater glory (and profit) and for that of the universities who reap millions from this feudal system while decrying the horrors of systemic injustice in all sorts of contexts that don’t make them money.

The message of the Court to the NCAA, in short: You aren’t special.

This is a message that the NCAA has sorely needed to hear, and will need to hear more often. The next tutors should definitely be the states, or at least the red states.

The NCAA hasn’t limited its pernicious powerplays merely to locking athletes into serfdom for its and college administrators’ benefits. It has added small-population American states to the list of its subjects, threatening them with exclusion from interstate collegiate sports unless they accept the association’s ever-more-woke commandments. The most recent tablet included an injunction against restricting access to women’s sports to people whose muscles had not been formed with the active assistance of coursing testosterone. Regardless of what happens later, the effects of that testosterone on those muscles cannot be reversed. Allowing those people, with those muscles, to play in women’s sports will destroy those sports, and reverse forty years of progress toward girls and women having vibrant, competitive sports teams and leagues.

The NCAA doesn’t care. Just as it doesn’t care about athletes being competitively remunerated for their efforts, it also doesn’t care about the competitive chances of women athletes generally. Rather, the NCAA is a tool of the universities, which, as we know, are a tool of the far left. And so it spouts, as the hard left spouts, radical nonsense that pretends to be for the common good, but really is about enriching – in assets and in power over others – the figures at the top of the hard left (the NCAA itself, and universities) at the expense of the very people and values it pretends to embrace.

In fact, we can reasonably use the NCAA as a parable of leftism generally. And exactly because it does so nicely embody and encapsulate all of the evils of the hard left, it and its power must be broken.

The next step lies with the states. Those that want to keep women’s sports competitive for biological women and that want their voters, and not the left-wing intelligentsia, to set state policy, must band together to tell the NCAA no.

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota arguably felled immovable timber across her path to higher office by surrendering to the NCAA and woke corporations in vetoing a bill that would have protected women’s sports in her state. Or perhaps she did not surrender, and was acting sagely. But there is no question that the NCAA exerted pressure and made threats. And there is no question that South Dakota, alone, would be hard pressed to fund its own legal defense against the NCAA, or could hold out hope that the rest of the country would stand as one to demand the inclusion of South Dakota teams in our national collegiate sporting life if the NCAA cut them out of interstate play.

But people would notice, and resist, if schools in Texas and Florida and Georgia and Alabama and a host of other red states were all barred by the NCAA. In fact, there is no question at all that if the NCAA tried to bar all of the red states from collegiate play, the result would be the sudden death of the NCAA, not of those states’ participation.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken the step that Governor Noem refused – but then again, it was easier for him. He has the Hurricanes and the Seminoles behind him, and a vastly larger legal-defense budget. But even stronger than his hand would be one held by a consortium of all the red states, one that told the NCAA: Not only are we going to protect women’s sports, we’re also going to make other internal rules without any regard to your pressure, and if your pressure continues, we will establish a competitive collegiate athletic association. The Supreme Court has just clarified for you that you have no antitrust protection. You also have no standing to act like a monopolist. Now sit down and shut up and administer tournaments without any editorial comment, much less imperious demand, or you’re finished.

This consortium of states can’t be a formal interstate compact; that requires congressional consent, which is unlikely just now. But it can function fully without that federal blessing. 

And once it’s humbled the NCAA, it can begin to subdue grasping corporations led by CEOs with dreams of Napoleon dancing in their heads.

Work together to break the backs of the would-be woke dictators. It wouldn’t even take all that long. Get to it.

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Deputy Director of its Free Enterprise Project.