A political want in Utah never did intersect with the world of sports. A bill that would have barred transgender athletes from playing girl school sports. It died before it reached the Utah Senate floor. That bill would have been on a collision course with the International Olympic Committee. It also would have had an impact on the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Basketball Association’s plans for major events. Those events include a men’s college basketball regional tournament and the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. Planned Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League events could be impacted too. Utah Republican Representative Kera Birkeland, claimed 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 Jazz owner Ryan Smith might have had some input on political thinking according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Smith might have reminded politicians that the NBA features 30 powerful owners with enormous financial clout.
President Joe Biden issued 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 the 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 The NCAA and NBA pulled events out of North Carolina because of a 2016 transgender bathroom law which was partially repealed in 2017. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves just signed a bill into law barring transgender athletes in public schools and colleges from competing in women’s sports. The NBA does not do business in Mississippi but the NCAA does and that could be problematic for that state in the future.