ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 5: The Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating the Florida Gators 29-15 in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 5, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The state of Alabama has been in the news recently and is not because of its athletics. The state has been under fire the last few days because of its stance on IVF or in vitro fertilization which has many around the nation up in arms over a new law the state just passed regarding the issue.

But now the state may pass a law that may affect several athletic programs across the state. The Alabama legislation wants to pass a bill prohibiting the teaching of “divisive concepts” and the sponsorship of “any diversity, equity, and inclusion program” in Alabama public schools and universities.

In part, the bill will prohibit schools across the state from teaching subjects they deem divisive such as slavery how the slave trade was part of American history, and how it still has an effect today.

Also, it will prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts” and the sponsorship of “any diversity, equity, and inclusion program” in Alabama public schools and universities.

Similar laws have already been passed in the state of Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis who has been heavily criticized for passing this law.

Now representative Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road filed on Tuesday, a law that resembles 2022 and 2023 proposals sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville.

One person already calling out this law is Birmingham, Alabama mayor Randall Woodfin. Woodfin, who is a huge Alabama fan, says if this law passes, he would encourage Black college athletes to go elsewhere.

“Although I’m the biggest Bama fan, I have no problem organizing Black parents and athletes to attend other institutions outside of the state where diversity and inclusion are prioritized,” Woodfin said last week.

“If supporting inclusion becomes illegal in this state, hell, you might as well stand in front of the school door like Governor Wallace,” Woodfin continued. “Mannnn it’s Black History Month. Y’all could have at least waited until March 1.”

But Woodfin wasn’t finished yet. He called on the state universities such as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham to voice their displeasure about this as well.

“To the State of Alabama: Why would you make it illegal for institutions of higher learning to promote diversity and inclusion among its faculty and staff? Why would you block fair representation and opportunities for all people?”

“To the leadership, athletic directors, and coaches at the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham: Do you support this prohibition of diversity and inclusion?”

Race, sports, and politics have always played a major part in the history of the state of Alabama. The University of Alabama didn’t integrate its athletic program until the early 1970s and didn’t have its first black quarterback, Walter Lewis, until the early 80s.

Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl frequently uses social media to talk about his political beliefs. He especially has been vocal about what’s happening in Israel. Pearl also hasn’t hidden the fact that he is a huge Trump supporter as well.

Meanwhile, most of the coaches in Tuscaloosa have been silent. including former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. Saban rarely, if any, speaks up on politics but now that he has retired, you wonder if that will change.

Saban, who is originally from West Virginia, has supported Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in the past and marched with his players to support the Black Lives Matter Movement after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer.

He has one of the biggest voices in the state of Alabama and since he has retired, you wondered if he will take up the mantle of the Democratic Party in the state of Alabama.

Right after he retired, Democrats in the state wanted him to run for public office. Although it may be too late for him to run for public office, Saban still has a lot of influence in that state.

In fact, like Bear Bryant before him, he is probably the most powerful person in the state of Alabama and what he says holds a lot of weight with the public.

If Saban wanted to, he could back any candidate in the state which will be almost the next best thing to him running for the office himself.

So you have to wonder if Woodfin will call up the coach and ask for his help in stopping this bill from passing. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

More than likely, this bill won’t stop star athletes from attending school at these universities because of their reputations of building stars, but it may cause a few to pause and look at other options that are out there before considering going to school in Alabama.

Many famous Black athletes throughout history and before integration, attended HBCUs especially in the South because they weren’t allowed to attend college at predominantly white colleges and universities.

Now many Black leaders such as Woodfin are going to encourage Black athletes to not only leave the state but not attend college in Alabama at all if a law like this is passed.

“To the parents of minority athletes who are helping their children decide if they want to play sports at those institutions: Would you be cool with your child playing at schools where diversity among staff is actively being discouraged”, he asked.

This is not a good look for the state of  Alabama which has at times had a hard time getting past the racial injustices that have been suffered by African-Americans over the years.

Although this law doesn’t directly affect Black student-athletes, it does affect Black students across the state who would be denied their story and the story of their ancestors being told by white legislators who are against teaching diversity.

Will Black athletes listen to Woodfin? Who knows. But maybe other legislators will look at the big picture and understand that this could affect how Black student-athletes look at the state of Alabama. If this law starts to affect how sports is played in the state, you better believe it won’t pass.


About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.