DeSantis proclaims: Florida recognizes the woman who finished second to Lia Thomas as the true national champion

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Rejecting the NCAA’s designation of a national champion and choosing your own has become a tradition in Florida of late.

DeSantis didn’t issue this proclamation randomly. Emma Weyant, the second-place finisher in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships, is a Sarasota native. She’s enough of a star in swimming to have won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year in a different event. But against trans woman Lia Thomas, she was short by nearly two seconds. Not fair, said the governor in an official decree he signed today.

I’m curious to see if Weyant acknowledges it or if she decides that getting on the wrong side of trans activists by doing so isn’t worth the grief.

Some grumbled afterward that DeSantis’s decree misses the point. Meaningful change requires the NCAA to alter its rules so that the Weyants of the future are acknowledged as national champions officially, not just unofficially on Ron DeSantis’s culture-war scorecard. I think gestures like this are useful in shaming the NCAA, though. Encouraging people not to take the organization seriously until it changes course is an inducement for them to do so.

In fact, it already has changed course. There are new rules for trans swimmers that go beyond testosterone levels in measuring their advantage but they don’t take effect until the 2023-24 academic year. That’s why Thomas was allowed to compete this year.

A new YouGov poll confirms what everyone already suspected, that the idea of letting trans women compete against biological women in sports is popular-ish with Democrats (some of whom are doubtless afraid to say otherwise) and with literally no one else:

Blacks and (32/40) and Hispanics (33/45) both think it’s a bad idea, and even typically liberal Zoomers can’t get excited for it. If I were in the Democratic leadership, I’d look hard at the independent numbers here and urge the members of my caucus to stay far away from this subject. Not because votes are going to turn on this issue in isolation this fall — they won’t — but because it’s another hot-button cultural matter like “defund the police” on which progressive opinion is so far out of sync with the average person’s that it’s apt to seem downright weird.

And most people aren’t going to back a party they find weird, even if they prefer its economic agenda.

Here’s DeSantis commenting on his proclamation this morning.