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The Economic Bombardment of North Carolina Due To HB2 Must Stop

Pressbox is a column here on The Sideline. It serves as a medium for writers to rant about some of the hottest takes in the sports world. Read all Pressbox rants here.

Injustice is everywhere. It is what our news cameras focus on, what our consciouses struggle to swallow, what you ask, ‘how is this still around?’ when you read the papers.

But it will always be around. There will always be sentiments that are harmful, that are unequal, and in this case, unconstitutional.

It is the world we live in, the world we have lived in for thousands of years, and the world we will sadly live in for years to come. It is not unchangeable, as much change has been brought about, especially in the last 150 years. But it is a terminal diagnosis until proven otherwise.

North Carolina’s HB2 act, led my Governor Pat McCrory, is legislation unfit for our time period and our nation. To better understand the act, here is the scoop, from The Charlotte Observer –

In a one-day specially convened session on March 23, North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender.

The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law – known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.

North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.

In shorter terms, the law allows discrimination of people based off their sexual orientation and disallows those who identify as transgender to use the bathroom they feel comfortable with.

This law is a sham. As a former North Carolina resident, few young people I know are fans of it. Not only does it embarrass the state who still has strong ties to its confederate background, but it also is an outdated, prejudicial law that provides nothing of value to the people of North Carolina and only serves to make life harder for those who are already struggling with the day to day reality of not being the majority or being accepted.

The law should be revoked. In fact, I am surprised it hasn’t been yet. But what has resulted from the law, in both the sports and the business world, has been dumbfounding.

The ACC championships were the most recent sporting event to ship themselves out of North Carolina. Before that, Charlotte lost the rights to host the 2017 All Star game, something that the entire city was extremely excited about, and it would have been a great opportunity to show off a young new team with high flying ownership in a smaller market. But that wasn’t all. The economic casualties go on:

  • Entertainers, like Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen, have cancelled shows in the state
  • PayPal cancelled a new ‘global payment center’ to be opened in Charlotte, furthering the escalating economy of the city
  • Lionsgate moved filming plans out of the state
  • Deutsche Bank cancelled expansion plans to Cary, NC, which would have brought more jobs to the city
  • The Tony award winning show, Wicked, stopped performing in the state

The Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates a $567.5 million economic loss to the state. That isn’t even taking into account the NCAA’s decision to remove ACC championships.

Look. It is clear that this bill has done nothing but hurt the people of North Carolina as well as it’s economy, and it is clear it should be repealed.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening in the near future. And this economic bombardment of the state of North Carolina isn’t going to change it.

There have been no referendums in the state debating if it should be appealed or not. Why should the people, businesses, and economy of North Carolina suffer for what a few hot-headed, intolerant, and frankly, old white guys have to say?

mcrory
Pat McRory, terrible Governor, profound duck lips user. Via Youtube.

The idea of removing your business from a place, or organization, or community, that has a different set of morals than yours is a tactic that has been used countless times. But in the case of HB2, I feel that the outlash, especially from the sports world, has been that of convenient outrage.

Where is the NBA desperately attempting to build up a market of basketball fans?

China.

The NBA Global Games 2015 found two teams, the Los Angeles Clippers and the (ironically) Charlotte Hornets, square off in exhibition matches in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

This is no Globetrotter tour. The markets of China are among the biggest in the world. It is simple supply and demand to tour Chinese cities with guys like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Kemba Walker. Young chinese fans want to see these guys up close and in person just as much as any American kid.

The money from this type of expansion is sure to be lucrative. One example, from Forbes, is that “a new partnership between Chinese Internet services provider Tencent and the NBA will go into effect.  It is essentially a five-year extension of an existing relationship that will serve as the league’s largest international digital partnership.

“The Charlotte Hornets are excited to play in NBA Global Games China and help grow the NBA’s brand internationally, while showcasing the strength of our franchise and team to millions of Chinese basketball fans,” said Charlotte Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan.

Expansion of the market seems like a profitable idea for the NBA, doesn’t it? But shall we go into the, say, Chinese human rights record?

From the 2016 World Report from Human Rights Watch

“China remains an authoritarian state, one that systematically curtails a wide range of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion. … The trend for human rights under President Xi Jinping [in 2015] continued in a decidedly negative direction. ‘

A government-censored internet, a human-cap law that restricts how many children and spaces people can have, the virtual captivity of Tibet and other regions, and an over-aggressive militant reaction to protests does not sound like values that the NBA represents.

Oh, and by the way, China has “no law protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, however, and there is no legal recognition of same-sex partnership.”

Wait, wasn’t that the exact reason the NBA All Star game was removed from Charlotte?

Chew on this for a second. The NBA took the opportunity to express outrage and seem like moral knights in shining armor by removing the game from NC. It was easy – just give it to another city, like New Orleans (who have never taken anything from Charlotte before), and all is well and good.

The NBA wasn’t economically effected by moving the game. They just relocated.

But to give up their stronghold on the sport of basketball in China over human rights violations? Now that would be expensive. Not worth it for the NBA.

If that example isn’t enough, what about the NCAA removing championships from the state, as they too, like the rest of us, disagree with the morals of HB2.

But do they agree with unpaid labor of student athletes, risking limbs, life, and livelihood over their games that see them and their associated schools profit m(b)illions?

I wrote an entire essay on why the NCAA should pay the players. Is it morally right to use these kids, who are trying to make a living at the next level, for free to make stupid amounts of money? Of course not.

But they won’t stand against their own business model for morals. Rather, they can get off looking like saints by standing against other’s morals.

 

The fact of the matter is HB2 is wrong. It needs to be revoked, gone, destroyed. But the convenient outrage expressed by the NBA, NCAA, and other inherently-capitalist organizations is one that is ironic and overblown.

Pressure North Carolina to revoke the law. It will happen soon enough. But don’t crater people’s livelihoods and fan’s passion because of something that they cannot prevent.

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