Once upon a time, going to the bathroom was a simple, routine task you didn’t really talk about in conversation. You went in, did your business, (hopefully) washed your hands, and went back to whatever you were doing before. Of course, the PC culture and the changing times mean that even a visit to the lavatory can cause problems.
North Carolina House Bill 2, or HB2 (or, if you really want to be specific, An Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations), was put into effect earlier this year with the goal of making sure that people use the bathroom that their birth certificate dictates. If your certificate says you’re a man, you use the men’s room and vice versa for females. Despite the law having good intentions with the main concerns including safety and the prevention of anti-discrimination laws, it’s been called a severely anti-LGBT legislation and has led to several lawsuits.
Whether it’s to avoid controversy or their own lawsuits, sports leagues are also getting involved with HB2 or, should we say, staying away from it. ESPN reported earlier this month that the Atlantic Coast Conference, or the ACC, will remove their neutral-site championship games from Charlotte, North Carolina, for the 2016-17 academic year due to the HB2 Law. The ACC, which has been won by either Clemson or Florida State each year since 2011, will likely be playing the game in Orlando, Florida, although there has been no official statement yet.
“We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year.”
The ACC joins the NBA in removing key games from Charlotte due to the legislation as commissioner Adam Silver relocated the 2017 All-Star Game from the Charlotte Hornets’ Spectrum Center to the New Orleans Pelican’s Smoothie King Center. These are the first major sporting events to be relocated for political issues since Arizona lost the rights to Super Bowl XXVII because the state didn’t observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The one question I ask the NBA, NCAA and others is this. Do you people think about what goes into all this?
In what world is the NFL allowing the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers to play in a riot-filled Charlotte, where protesters openly proclaimed they’d ban access to Bank of America Stadium, acceptable but having a conference championship game in the same state and same stadium where a bathroom law exists isn’t? Why would any of the major sports leagues continue to allow Bulls, White Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, and Bears games in Chicago, a city that’s become the ‘murder capital,’ but they then panic about a simple law telling people to use the bathroom their birth certificate dictates?
It’d make common sense that getting sporting events out of cities where murder and destruction are rampant would be a good idea, but with the exception of the Baltimore Orioles during the Freddy Gray riots, no such thing was done. But to remove a game, one of which is a championship and another which is a heavy draw for the NBA in terms of money and ratings, over a bill?
For what it’s worth, I have a lot of respect for NBA commissioner Adam Silver for following through on his threats and even having the courage to make the move of leaving Charlotte, but I disagree with the decision. This is far from the Donald Sterling controversy where Silver forced a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers because their owner was caught on tape making horrifically racist comments. This is all controversy about something that doesn’t need as much attention as it has received
When the NBA backed out of holding the All-Star Game in Charlotte, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the league’s reasons.
“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community – current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans.”
Which, again, I respect and that’s why I personally think Adam Silver is easily the best commissioner in all of sports right now (it’s still too early for Rob Manfred, and there’s not much he’s really done that’s good or bad). But here’s the thing with that. The bill was put into place for safety and as a form of equality. Really, the problem here is people just misunderstanding the law and automatically overreacting because it’s not an immediate benefit for the LGBT community on paper.
To many, the law says people are required to use a certain bathroom, that’s it, and there’s no changing. If you disagree with the opponents of the legislation and support the law, you’re automatically homophobic, transphobic, or just a variety of other often obscene insults.
Again, that’s not the case at all. If you’re still confused, let’s take a close read at what the bill is actually saying.
“AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR SINGLE-SEX MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY BATHROOM AND CHANGING FACILITIES IN SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC AGENCIES AND TO CREATE STATEWIDE CONSISTENCY IN REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.”
Statewide consistency is not at all a bad thing, and the details of the bill even stress that this is not a law meant to discriminate and cause problems. Let’s take a quick look at Sections 3A and 3B, which surround ‘legislative deceleration.’
“It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees. (b) It is recognized that the practice of denying employment opportunity and discriminating in the terms of employment foments domestic strife and unrest, deprives the State of the fullest utilization of its capacities for advancement and development, and substantially and adversely affects the interests of employees, employers, and the public in general.”
Did you see what that says? When someone says, “It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons,” they’re saying the bill was not created to deprive people of opportunities. This is not a case of a group, in this case, transgender people, being told they cannot attend events, or they cannot sit with people who remain their gender of origin. This is not a case of police threatening a group with guns and telling them to get on their knees or risk getting shot.
In short, the best way to phrase it is like this.
“We. Are. Not. Talking. Segregation. Not. All. People. Who. Agree. With. HB2. Are. Evil.”
There’s also the issue of people losing jobs and pay because leagues are removing their games from Charlotte. Doesn’t robbing people of an opportunity to get paid, even if they disagree with the bill, seem just as bad as robbing people of the opportunity to use the bathroom they feel they’re supposed to use? With a bathroom, the worst-case scenario is you find a different place or use the one they ask you to, but with a paycheck you now no longer get, what is the actual loss? People have bills to pay and/or children to take care of, and they are losing their income.
The leagues are all about money, and at this rate, people are going to start protesting for the NFL and NBA to relocate, or at the very least, have them play in different stadiums until the bill is dealt with. How would this affect the Panthers and Hornets? What happens then? Would the NFL be willing to take the loss of revenue in Charlotte by having the Panthers play in Tennessee? As Las Vegas tries to get in the hunt for an NFL or NBA team, would Adam Silver find it acceptable to turn the Hornets into the Aces?
No. Doing that means a loss of long-term money, and no sports commissioner would ever prioritize the ethics in a debate like this over money. These games are really being moved because it’s one game, which has zero impact on the rest of the season (barring an injury), and they don’t to take any type of hit with the advertisers. But having the Panthers split their home with the Titans and losing out on ten games worth (plus postseason) of revenue in Charlotte? There’s not a chance that would happen.
But wait, what about that Super Bowl the state of Arizona lost? It’s not even close to fair to compare Martin Luther King Jr., both the man and the impact he left, to this law, nor is it close to compare the Super Bowl to an All-Star Game or an entire season. That should hopefully go without saying.
The people making these decisions are smart businessmen, even Roger Goodell, and one game isn’t going to disrupt the stream of money the league brings in. Obviously, if this was a law where transgender people were allowed to get shot in the street like savages, it’s a different story but this? Come 2019, the NBA All-Star Game will be back in Charlotte, and while some people will complain, the issue will long be forgotten about by the majority of the people.
That’s just the way the world spins, after all.
[Featured Image by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]