The NCAA has spoken, and it is not happy with the state of North Carolina. For reasons clearly stated in a September 12 press release, seven NCAA championship events will be relocated away from previously designated venues in Cary, Greensboro, and Greenville, North Carolina. This action will affect seven men’s and women’s sports across all three divisions of the NCAA, but the opening weekend’s games of next year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament not being played in Greensboro will grab the headlines.
It’s not that you need the NCAA involved to draw headlines towards North Carolina’s now infamous bathroom bill. The National Basketball Association has pivoted its big neutral-site game, the Association’s All-Star Game, from Charlotte, where it was scheduled next winter, to New Orleans. Businesses, most notably PayPal, have halted planned growth in the state. Concerts have been canceled and a number of local governments have restricted business travel to the state, all voicing frustration with the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.
With me, I’ve never actually paid that much attention to the company I keep in a public restroom. Get in, take care of what you went in there to do, and get out. It feels simpler than it seems to be, and I feel common sense is at play, but I’m not in public office. Maybe every fourth or fifth law passed over there has to be about something that really isn’t an issue, or wasn’t an issue. It is certainly buzzworthy now.
We’ve punished a lot of the wrong people in North Carolina, to date. To be fair, this punitive action towards the citizens of North Carolina is about removing anti-discriminatory language from law. It’s been a while since my last math class, but if I recall how to handle a double negative, it equals ‘adding discriminatory language’, correct? That’s how I’m rolling, here.
The hospitality industry has lower numbers to be hospitable towards, thus fewer hours will be given to those employees. Construction workers aren’t laying the groundwork for new commercial properties. With the absence of those buildings, goes the many entry-level jobs no longer available to the many students hoping to graduate into the workforce.
Some of those recent graduates will be the NCAA’s former student-athletes, some forced so far from home their families won’t see them play on the biggest stage of their careers. On the off chance, Mount Olive returns to the Division II Championship Baseball tournament, the know they won’t be hosting the finals in Cary, even though that was the plan. There are athletes that play golf, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis that might have similar sob stories. You could call if unfair, but that really only amounts to a minor inconvenience.
Something like that only pales in comparison with the dilemma a NCAA Tournament Committee might face, when it would have had to (maybe) keep public schools from Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont out of one of the 8 slots in Greensboro next March. There would be more noise about losing a Sweet Sixteen, let alone a Final Four, but we’ll hear plenty, given the 18 Division I Hoops programs in the basketball-crazy state of North Carolina.
Quick to weigh in with endorsements of the NCAA’s decision were the athletic directors from the state’s name brand athletic programs, Duke and North Carolina. Duke’s Kevin White stated that they agree with the NCAA’s decision and that they “will always be committed to diversity and inclusion, and applaud any efforts to ensure that those values are protected and enacted at all times, and in places in the state of North Carolina.”
North Carolina’s Bubba Cunningham discussed his school’s commitment to fairness and also expressed his disappointment on behalf of people of the state and the communities “that are scheduled to play host to these championship events and to the students who may be denied the opportunity to compete for championships in their home state.” What happens to the student-athletes is admittedly trivial, but they are collateral damage, playing the role of pawns in this political chess game.
Ask Governor Pat McCrory or the sponsor of HB2, Representative Dan Bishop, how much they weep for those student-athletes, those hospitality workers, or those young North Carolina-educated professionals, all missing out on opportunity and prosperity. Does the message get to them, to spark change? I don’t think it does.
It doesn’t actually matter. The NCAA is bound by its constitution to not stand idly by. The schools are bound by their own commitment to decency, if not their reputations, to follow suit. The idea here is a unified front against discrimination. It isn’t the NCAA’s directive to get complicated and detailed with this. They needed the North Carolina government to do better, and the North Carolina government failed them.
The longer this goes on, the more collateral damage we’ll see in the form of real people in the Tar Heel State. For the student-athletes, they’re best served to take the sacrifices they may be forced to make with a grain of salt.
Maybe they can send a postcard from Pensacola or wherever.