The NAACP, the nation’s largest African American activist organization, is pressuring the governing body for college sports to cancel its tournaments in Mississippi because a portion of the state’s flag contains the Southern Cross emblem associated with the long-dead Confederate States of America.
The Magnolia State is the last state with the Confederate emblem on its official flag, and the NAACP wants Mississippi punished for that fact. It is an emblem that NAACP president Derrick Johnson calls a “racial hate symbol,” the Associated Press reported.
Johnson now wants the NCAA, the organization that governs college sports, to cancel all tournaments in Mississippi unless, or until, the state removes the Confederate symbol from its flag.
The NCAA has tournaments planned for the University of Mississippi in Oxford this week, but Johnson wants the games canceled because, “Racial hate symbols are the same regardless of the tournament being played.”
The NAACP’s demands come on the heels of the NCAA’s boycotting of North Carolina due to the state’s transgender bathroom law. This year, despite that the boycott had little financial affect on the state, North Carolina repealed the bill.
College sports aren’t the only leagues threatening to boycott over politics. Last year, the NFL warned that if Texas continued working on its own bathroom bill that pro football may take away future Super Bowls from the Lone Star State.
Along with several other southern states during the era, Mississippi placed the Confederate symbol on its state flag in 1894, but it is now the last southern state still to have it included. Still, both Alabama and Florida have the red cross reminiscent of the doomed historical banner featured on their flags.
Tournament boycotts, though, are problematic. After all, if these bathroom bills and “racist” symbols are so egregious, how can these leagues even allow teams in the “offending” states into their organizations? Why are just tournaments boycotted? The logic of boycotting just some parts of their sport and not others lacks a moral basis.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.