Those in high-profile sports have a unique platform to reach the masses, and USC athletic director Pat Haden is using his to impact societal change.
Pat Haden announced Tuesday that he is taking a stand against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s grandstanding by skipping the College Football Playoff committee meetings in Indianapolis.
I am the proud father of a gay son. In his honor, I will not be attending the CFP committee meeting in Indy this week. #EmbraceDiversity
— Pat Haden (@ADHadenUSC) March 31, 2015
Pence’s inability to explain the details of SB-101. The governor came off unprepared Sunday on ABC’s This Week, stumbling through his answers and failing to answer even simple yes-or-no questions. In other words, Mike Pence was the polar opposite of the resolute Pat Haden.
Pat Haden is just the latest authority in sports to use his outlet to come out against the at best vague and at worst discriminatory legislation. Charles Barkley called for this weekend’s Final Four to be moved out of Indianapolis and NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed his concern over the law’s possible ramifications for college athletics.
Indeed, Indianapolis is a major hub in the sporting world and thus, this law is going to have an impact on sports. In addition to this week’s Final Four, the city just hosted the Big Ten Basketball Tournament just two weeks ago, and has been the home of the Big Ten Football Championship since its inception in 2011.
From the college football perspective — the perspective Pat Haden represents with his boycott of the CFB committee — imagine a team with an openly gay player participating in the Big Ten Championship. Not exactly an outlandish scenario, given the 2013 SEC Championship featured the Missouri Tigers and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam.
An Indianapolis-based business being able to deny this team service for having a gay player is the kind of scenario America was supposed to have left behind after the Civil Rights Movement. You think of similar scenes as depicted in the biopic The Express, focused on Ernie Davis’ struggles against discrimination in leading Syracuse to the 1959 national championship, and may wonder how such bigotry was accepted — or why few spoke out against it.
Kudos to Pat Haden for speaking out.