Mike Lemme

The St. Mark's Sessions begin November 10th!

Religious Freedom (Swish)

Today, Indiana Governor Mike Pence passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially gives people the right to run their businesses and associations in ways that will not hinder their religious beliefs.

For those of you wondering how Indiana got the nickname “The Hoosier State," it’s from that famous expression, “Hoosier sitting with?! Better not be ya boyfriend, because you’re also a dude. No soup for you!”

Now seeing as 19 other states have similar legislation, this whole thing could be shoved in a box and placed in a big storage container, or perhaps, a large walk-in closet full of men and women from those 19 states, but Indiana can’t be ignored!

One of the biggest events of the year is about to take place there and it could bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. And no, I’m not talking about the grand opening of Indiana’s new frozen yogurt shop, “It’s FroYo, Not FroHomo!”

This year’s Final Four for the NCAA March Madness Tournament will take place in Indiana. Since they do a lot of business with the state and never discriminate against anyone, unless they’re an athlete trying to get paid, many wondered how the NCAA would respond to Governor Pence's decision.

After being asked about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the association will examine “how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” Because, oh yeah, not only will the Final Four take place in Indiana, the NCAA’s national headquarters is also in Indiana. At this point, the only thing that won’t be in Indiana, is America’s favorite Cinderella, under-dog team, The Equality Jazz Hands .   

In 2010, the NCAA made a deal to bring a “major event” to Indianapolis every year until 2039. The NCAA also agreed to hold “90 percent of its committee meetings” in Indianapolis. Why would they sign such a ridiculous deal? Because, I don’t know if you guys remember this, but the NCAA loves to make money and not pay for things.

According to a 2014 article in the IndyStar, the NCAA moved its headquarters to Indianapolis, because the association was offered $50 million in incentives, and they would only have to pay $1 a year for rent. So you’re telling me the NCAA is only paying for utilities or are they powering the building by having former athletes run on a giant wheel, still chasing their NBA dreams?  

But the NCAA wasn't the only one to win big in this deal.

The NCAA agreed to have the men’s Final Four take place in Indianapolis once every 5 years until the year 2060. And in 2014, Forbes predicted that the city who hosts the NCAA Final Four tournament is expected to make between $70 and $200 million.

So when NCAA President Mark Emmert says he’s going to examine how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act might affect future NCAA events, he really means he’s just gonna go sit on his couch made of money and watch basketball.