If you listen carefully to this week Crossroads podcast (click right here to do so), you can hear question after question passing by, questions that simply cannot be answered at this time -- yet questions that could be hooks for major news stories later on.
Here's the big question, one that I asked on a radio show several months ago and discussed again in a post this week: Will the principalities and powers at the NCAA choose (as is their right as leaders of a private, voluntary association) to eject religious private colleges and universities that (as currently is their right as private, voluntary associations) ask students, faculty and staff to live under lifestyle covenants that, among other doctrines, affirm that sex outside of traditional marriage is sin?
OK, let's back up and ask an important question that precedes that monster: Will major American businesses -- the economic giants that sponsor events like bowl games and the hoops Final Four -- hear the cries of LGBT activists and begin pressuring the NCAA to make this change?
Maybe there is a question in front of THAT one, such as: At what point will ESPN or some other force in the entertainment industrial complex begin what amounts to a "go to the mattresses" campaign to force this question on the NCAA?
So, the questions keep coming.
What will the leaders of the big religiously conservative private schools that are in the cross hairs on this issue -- think Baylor and Brigham Young -- do when forced to make a choice between the faiths that define them (and religious supporters with children and money) and the prestige and money connected with big-time athletics?
Yes, host Todd Wilken pressed me -- as a Baylor alum -- to offer an educated guess on what I thought Baylor leaders would do when push comes to shove.
I told him that I really didn't know, then waffled a bit by saying that it will be very hard for Baylor to walk away from the Big 12. My hunch is that Baylor will try to compromise, in part to save its professional schools (think law and medicine) as well as sports. Will compromise work? I think not.
Besides, Baptists have never been big on signing detailed doctrinal covenants. Will that have to change in the future with current legal trends?
This issue raises -- in light of recent headlines -- another question or two. How seriously is Baylor taking its community covenant these days, in terms of sex outside of marriage? Gay or straight? Athletes or ordinary students?
Moving on. While big schools will get the headlines, it's important to remember that most religious-heritage colleges and universities are smaller schools.
Thus, here's another important question that lots of journalists will want to pursue, especially if there is a lower-division NCAA school in their zip codes: If kicked out of the NCAA, will we see the formation of a smaller sports association for doctrinally defined schools? Did St. Benedict have any advice on athletics?
OK, there are so many questions. Let's turn to a journalism question.
Will the vast majority of mainstream journalists continue to act as if they believe that people are clinically insane if they truly believe -- and act as if they believe -- that sex outside of marriage is sin?
This question is crucial, because many Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons and others insist that they believe that homosexual acts are sinful, but that the temptations of same-sex orientation are not sinful. Thus, since these schools have doctrinal covenants stating that all sex outside of marriage is sin, they say that it's fine for gay and straight students to be celibate while attending their schools. That appears to be a #LOL statement for most journalists, based on the coverage out there.
But wait, don't students have a Constitutional right to have sex? Isn't that's somewhere in Justice Antony Kennedy's famous prose about the "right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life"?
Actually, that isn't the real question here, since no one forces students to sign on the bottom line and attend these religious private schools (a fact rarely mentioned in news reports). Thus, is the actual question here whether these kinds of religious schools will continue to have a right, under the U.S. Constitution, to exist and to define their communities according to the doctrines of their faiths? Or will they be able to have doctrines, but not the right to act on them or to defend them in practice (see the Health and Human Services mandate wars)?
Or, wait, is it safe to assume that they will have the right to exist, but not the right to compete as members of the NCAA? Is there a right to compete in the NCAA? Of course not.
I know, I know. We have come full circle.
Oh, and this just in from NCAA land:
After months of hinting that it would use its financial clout to take a stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the NCAA on Wednesday made it official.
The organization's Board of Governors, at its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions -- from Final Fours to educational conferences. Those host sites must "demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event," the NCAA said.
For now, though, the NCAA is not elaborating on what that means. The board has directed the national office to finalize details of the policy and how it would be implemented, spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said.
Take that, Bible Belt.