Tell the NCAA to Stop Running Ads for Focus on the Family

basketballThe National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is running banner ads for ultra-conservative group Focus on the Family. You can see them at NCAA.com. (If you don’t, just reload the page; the ads are in rotation with some others.)

This is an affront to all LGBT, feminist, and allied NCAA athletes and former athletes. I was an NCAA athlete myself, and I’m personally pissed.

I first learned of the incident from Pat Griffin’s LGBT Sport Blog. Griffin is the former director of It Takes A Team, an education and advocacy project addressing LGBT issues in sport. She observes:

The NCAA constitutional principles include an explicit prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation. Lesbian and gay student-athletes, coaches, and administrators are a significant part of the NCAA’s membership. Women are a significant part of the NCAA on all levels. Many of the individual institutions [i.e.,  colleges and universities] that belong to the NCAA have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Yet the NCAA apparently thinks it is just fine to support an anti-gay agenda.

Griffin also says (which I cannot confirm, but have no reason to doubt) that CBS plans to air FOF ads throughout the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in March “with the complete complicity, consent and support of the NCAA.” CBS, as you may know, came under fire for running an FOF ad during the Super Bowl.

NCAA.com is in fact run in partnership with CBSsports.com. It is focused on competition news and is a more commercial site than the organization’s corporate site, NCAA.org. I imagine that it is CBS that manages advertising on NCAA.com, as it does for television broadcasts. Regardless, the site uses the NCAA name and is clearly run with NCAA approval.

It’s true we shouldn’t stop an organization from advertising simply because we disagree with it. FOF, however, has beliefs and goals that are in direct contradiction to the principles of the NCAA and many of its member organizations. “Homosexual behavior violates God’s intentional design for gender and sexuality,” states the FOF Web site (focusonthefamily.org). “We support counseling and the availability of professional therapy options for unwanted homosexual attractions and behavior.”

The NCAA bylaws state, however, “The Association shall promote an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person.”

Running ads from a virulently anti-LGBT organization in no way promotes that atmosphere of respect. Foul.

Update, 9:30 a.m.: Change.org has started a campaign to get the NCAA to take down the FOF ads. You can sign their petition here.

Griffin provides these contacts:

  • NCAA Public Relations: (317) 917-6762
  • NCAA Public Relations: pmr@ncaa.org
  • NCAA Main Number: (317) 917-6222

If you are an alumna or student of an NCAA-member college or university (or have children who are), you might also want to drop a note to the school’s athletic director, asking her or him to request that the NCAA not run these ads.