This week the NCAA announced it would cancel a number of championship events in North Carolina in response to the state’s controversial HB2 law.
Among those events to be moved from the state are the NCAA tournament games scheduled for Greensboro in the spring, along with championship matches and games scheduled for women’s soccer, women’s golf and women’s lacrosse in Division I; baseball in Division II; and men’s and women’s soccer in Division III.
In so doing, the NCAA has jumped on a bandwagon of hypocrisy and grandstanding that is driven not by the desire to do what’s right, but by the chase for money and good public relations.
Don’t misunderstand or think we’ve flipped on this issue. HB2 is a terrible piece of legislation that was destined to be overturned in court — at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s government overreach at its worst, the state stepping in and taking local authority from communities and centralizing it in Raleigh. And far from what the national media likes to pretend, it was more than a “bathroom” bill aimed at the LGBT community.
The bill took basic workplace protections and a means to seek legal redress for workplace grievances from women, racial minorities, and virtually everyone in North Carolina who might be discriminated against on the basis of age, sex, race, or just about anything.
The bill has made local governments less competitive with those in neighboring states in attracting jobs by limiting what localities can do regarding minimum wage laws, benefits required of companies doing businesses with local governments, and a host of other problems.
But what captured the nation’s interest is the provision that required a person using a public or workplace restroom to adhere to the bathroom gender designations based on the person’s actual, true gender. Of all the provisions in the law, this one was the only one that made any sense.
Still, because any issue dealing with the LGBT community seems to be a hot button one, there were many folks and institutions willing to jump on the bandwagon.
Bruce Springsteen was probably the first big name to come along, when he cancelled a Greensboro concert to protest what he called his part in the “fight against prejudice and bigotry.” We found it odd that the people most affected by the new law, the working poor and unemployed, women and racial minorities, have been struggling against anti-worker bias in North Carolina for years, yet Springsteen doesn’t seem to care about those folks.
His move, we believe, was all about public relations and an attempt to regain the public relevancy he had 15 or 20 years ago.
Then came Paypal, which pulled out of a planned operations center construction in Charlotte, costing the state 400 decent-paying jobs.
The thing we’ve never been able to understand is how Paypal can publicly blast North Carolina, yet openly and willingly do business at a number of facilities it owns and operates in places such as Russia and The United Arab Emirates.
In Russia, gays are routinely beaten and jailed, and even supporting gay rights can result in a prison term. The United Arab Emirates? A conviction of being gay there carries the death penalty.
The NBA pulled its 2017 All Star game from Charlotte, yet continues to schedule preseason games in China and is actively working to put regular season games there. We’re guessing the lack of concern for LGBT rights — or any human rights for that matter — in China pales in comparison to the potential market the NBA sees for selling its wares, whereas the North Carolina market is probably already matured, so the NBA isn’t worried about losing money here.
And now we have the NCAA canceling games in North Carolina. Here again, the NCAA expresses its desire to seek and support diversity and basic human rights protections for all, at the same time following the NBA’s lead in cultivating the massive Chinese market with regular season basketball games played there.
That might be the very definition of disingenuous.
Again, we believe HB2 is wrong on many levels, and we would like to see the General Assembly repeal the bill before the courts overturn it.
But it gets tiring to see all of these big dollar organizations like the NCAA, NBA, Paypal, and others taking shots at North Carolina, while aggressively pursuing business with nations that seem to violate every conceivable human right there is. That tends to undercut any moral authority or standing the big businesses have, and reduces them to a money-grubbing bully bent on simply bringing North Carolina to heel for no other reason than they believe they can.