I’ve never been a big fan of the sport we called “pumpkin-pushing” in the wrestling room. I love sports, but basketball just bores me. Football used to be about the only sport I could sit through on television.
That stated, I’ve broadened my horizons throughout the past decade or so. When I was stationed in Alaska, I came to enjoy hockey. It was the only major or minor league sport I could watch live, in person in Anchorage.
Curling might be my second-favorite sport to watch on television. There’s something infatuating about watching those people sweep in front of the rock. I’ve spent many hours with a case of sodas in front of the Winter Olympics trying to figure out the science behind it.
As my horizons have broadened, I’ve even grown to accept basketball as a real sport. Just as with football, I prefer to watch it at the collegiate level. However, I truly enjoyed watching my hometown Cavaliers win the city’s first championship since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964.
I guess that makes me a fair-weather basketball fan. Needless to say, I’ve never watched an NBA All-Star Game. In fact, the only time I’ve ever watched any all-star game was in 1997, when Cleveland hosted the MLB’s all-star game. I even attended the home run derby that year.
All in all, all-star games seem a little worthless to me. They are for fans who prefer spectacle over competition.
That stated, the spectacle revolving around an all-star game can do wonders in the short term for a local economy.
In 2012, the city of Orlando hosted the NBA All-Star Game. A study done shortly thereafter indicated Orange County, Florida, saw $95 million injected into its local economy.
The NBA All-Star Game is much more than just a bunch of big-name players showing up to play basketball. It’s a weekend’s long event, with a host of surrounding activities.
Folks travel from throughout the world to take part in and play witness to the events. It puts heads in beds at local hotels, and patrons eat meals at local restaurants. Some who might have visited might have also enjoyed a glass of wine at one of the Yadkin Valley’s many vineyards or a stop in Mayberry.
However, we will never know what the economic impact of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game would have been to Charlotte and the surrounding area. We will also never know how much of a piggy-back tourism we would have seen right here in Mount Airy.
We will never know any of this because an overwhelming majority of legislators and a governor decided to pass a discriminatory law, which has led to a multitude of other economic impacts to the state and the city of Charlotte.
When pressed on the issue, Gov. Pat McCrory only ever defends the bathroom portion of House Bill 2. Stating his bathroom boogeyman is on the loose, and the bill — which is ultimately unenforceable unless we are all to carry our birth certificates to the restroom — is protecting women and children.
McCrory never has a good answer as to why the legislation outlaws an employer making a hiring decision based on a person’s religion, race or gender, but has no provision protecting a person’s employment rights based on their gender identity or sexuality.
It even goes as far as rendering any city unable to pass nondiscrimination language to protect its LGBT residents and visitors, dragging every local government to the same low standard of respect for one’s lifestyle our leaders in Raleigh have set.
They reversed another part of the law, but nobody ever really offered a good explanation as to why the bill removed a person’s ability to take an employment matter before a state court.
The truth is HB2 was a law passed in hopes of mobilizing the social conservatives in the 2016 election. However, as the impact of the law becomes more evident, those who see the economic destruction the bill is causing may outnumber the folks who think the entire world ought to live by their chosen set of “values.”
McCrory’s answer was to attack the NBA, but I would applaud the league. League leaders followed their values, just as McCrory claims to have done.
In contrast to McCrory’s “values,” the NBA’s values take the high road, truly valuing people for who they are and accepting folks who differ from society’s “norm.”
I would think the thought of holding a major event in North Carolina, a state which has made its discriminatory stance toward members of the LGBT community well known, is as foreign to the league — an organization which has embraced openly gay player Jason Collins, referee Bill Kennedy, coach Curt Miller and Golden Warriors president Rick Welts — as standing up for the rights of all North Carolina residents is to McCrory and the legislature which plays puppeteer to the governor.
Maybe there will be another shot in 2019, after the state spends millions of dollars defending provisions of a law which have already been ruled unconstitutional.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.