“North Carolina’s reputation is going right down the drain” said a Dec. 22 headline on the Washington Post’s Opinion’s page.
It’s a viewpoint that is gaining ground in some circles, after the N.C. legislature declined to repeal the controversial “bathroom bill” as part of deal with the Charlotte City Council. Among other things, the bill requires people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.
USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour summed things up this week by saying North Carolina is isolating itself over a law that is on the wrong side of history. And she says the state shouldn’t be surprised when the NCAA and other major sports organizations “refuse to play along.”
“If North Carolina lawmakers are going to continue targeting the LGBT community with legalized discrimination, as they indicated by this week’s failure to repeal HB2, they can expect the state to be treated with equal disdain when it comes to major sporting events. The NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA tournament, ACC championships – there’s more shunning where that came from,” Armour wrote.
“To get an idea of what being a pariah feels like, North Carolina only has to look across the border. For almost 15 years, the NCAA refused to award championships to South Carolina while the Confederate flag flew on the grounds of the state capitol.”
Gov. Pat McCrory’s defeat in his re-election bid is linked to his support of HB2. Critics of the law say even worse are the mounting financial loses, which includes PayPal canceling plans to expand into the state and the NCAA relocating several athletic championship events for the 2016-17 season.
South Carolina took that flag down earlier this year. And Armour notes there is a touch of irony in the fact Greenville, S.C., will now host the first- and second-round games of the men’s tournament that originally were awarded to the Greensboro.
Supporters of HB2 have dismissed such moves as outsiders trying to “blackmail” the state. Other leaders have claimed the North Carolina’s financial loses have been minimal.
However, Armour notes hosting a weekend of NCAA tournament games can bring a city $10 to $15 million, and losing the NBA All-Star Game is estimated to have cost Charlotte $100 million.
“For its many faults, the NCAA has been a consistent and vocal proponent of inclusion,” notes Armour.
“The NBA isn’t likely to be any more forgiving. It has long been the measuring stick on issues of equality and tolerance, and takes great pride in that role. Being a willing party to discrimination would go against everything the league stands for, and Commissioner Adam Silver isn’t the type to sell the NBA’s soul,” says Armour.