The New England Patriots showed that it’s not over till it’s over. But in North Carolina, the game is over – unless Phil Berger suddenly comes roaring back with a Tom Brady-like MVP performance.
The NCAA is deciding over the next two to three weeks where to play its college sports championships through 2022. North Carolina is expected to be shut out for six straight years unless it repeals House Bill 2 immediately. In other words, it’s the fourth quarter, we’re down big and we need some heroics to avoid a devastating loss.
The situation was spelled out Monday in a letter to legislators from Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, on behalf of the N.C. Sports Association.
“In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses and will essentially close its doors to NCAA business,” Dupree wrote. “Our window to act is closing rapidly.”
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That’s not an ultimatum, or a political statement; it’s just the facts. NCAA committees for each sport are meeting this month. They will decide within weeks, and announce on April 18, where events will be held through 2022.
As every coherent North Carolinian knows, HB2’s anti-LGBT provisions prompted some companies, concert performers and sporting events to shun the state. The law has cost the state millions in tax revenue, much more in economic impact and incalculable damage to our reputation. All for no gain.
The NCAA could deliver the biggest blow yet. There are 133 NCAA championship bids for events between 2018 and 2022, plus all those the Atlantic Coast Conference and other conferences would surely deny in following the NCAA’s lead. The state already lost NCAA and ACC events this year, and ones scheduled for next year are on the brink of being pulled.
That’s bad for sports fans and local and state tax coffers. It’s even worse for hourly employees and hospitality businesses that depend on those events.
The state and its leaders should be past the point of worrying about who deserves the blame or credit. It’s time to excise this tumor and save these events and their economic boost.
There’s an easy solution: Put a clean repeal to a vote in the House and Senate. Berger, a Republican and the Senate leader, blames Gov. Roy Cooper and Democrats for scuttling a repeal deal in December. But that deal would have essentially extended HB2 six months instead of killing it, as agreed upon. Berger can count on Democrats to accept a clean repeal.
The Republican Party on Tuesday said Cooper should offer a compromise instead of urging a clean repeal. Of course, a clean repeal was the compromise in December: Charlotte repeals its ordinance, the legislature repeals HB2. Charlotte did; the legislature didn’t.
At this point, we get that Republicans need some face-saving measure. So here it is: Since their professed concern is about the safety of women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms, repeal HB2 and stiffen penalties for trespassing or any nefarious conduct in bathrooms. That should satisfy all sides.
But do it fast, because the clock is about to run out.