I'm a sportswriter, not a political columnist. The last thing I expected to write about when I got into this profession was about how sports and politics intersect, and whether or not they should at all.
There are many things I claim to know a lot about. Sports — particularly the Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers. Animals — especially dogs. GIFs. Social media. Video games. The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Politics, especially in a case like this, is not one of those things.
I figured the NBA moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte was coming and that it would happen sooner rather than later. That doesn’t make it hurt any less, though the NBA admitting that will try to return the All-Star Game as soon as 2019 does lessen the blow a bit.
I became a sports fan to help me escape the politics and stresses of everyday life. That the two are now seemingly intertwined complicates things for me. My escape is no longer an escape and I'm realizing that there are other fans for whom sports are always complicated.
So I'm confused as to where exactly I should direct my anger and frustration.
Should they lie with the state, who created House Bill 2, a law seen by many as discriminatory and bigoted that puts North Carolina in a negative light the state has never seen? A law that was rushed to be passed in controversial fashion and one that North Carolina governor Pat McCrory took $500,000 out of the state's hurricane relief fund to defend?
Despite being giving adequate time, the state was unable to make what the NBA and the majority of the public viewed as the proper changes to the law. Now, the state lost what was arguably its biggest sporting event since Raleigh and the Carolina Hurricanes hosted Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals more than a decade ago. And it will probably continue to face cancellations of events thanks to the law.
Concerts across North Carolina have been cancelled because of HB2. A college basketball game between Duke and Albany has been cancelled due to the law. The NCAA said they will think twice about hosting NCAA Tournament games in the state due to the law. The PGA of America released a strong statement on Thursday, that said their "willingness to consider coming back to the state of North Carolina will be severely impacted unless HB2 is overturned." This doesn't even begin to touch on all the businesses, jobs and money that North Carolina has lost due to the law, either. What more can be said or done to say enough is enough?
Or, should I be angry at the NBA for choosing to punish the city of Charlotte for something it was on its side for? The city itself actually passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. It was the the state of North Carolina that overruled the city's ordinance and created a new statewide law. Why punish Charlotte if they have been fighting for LBGT rights this whole time?
Furthermore, why make this the hill you choose to fight on? Multiple states, including Louisiana — home to New Orleans, where the NBA is reportedly going to move the All-Star Game to — are suing the Department of Justice over its overruling of North Carolina's HB2. Why punish the city of Charlotte and then allow the city of New Orleans to prosper when both are in similar situations? Should I call the NBA hypocrites for moving their All-Star game while the WNBA is fining players for wearing shirts supporting shooting victims? What about the fact that the NBA is looking to expand its dealings with China, a country that has been dealing with its own human rights issues for quite some time?
Or maybe the blame lies with the people. Are we to blame for being unable to reach a compromise on something as seemingly simple as who can use what bathroom? At a time when we as a people need to be united as one, helping support and keep one another upright and strong, it seems we are ready to tear apart almost anything and everything in the name of our beliefs. What ever happened to the golden rule? You know, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you? LGBT people are people like you and me — why do they deserve fewer rights than anyone else?
I do not know.
I know sports and can talk X's and O's for hours on end if given the opportunity. This — this law and the politics surrounding it — is not one of the things I know how to navigate. As a result, I sit here, alone with my thoughts as I have been doing for hours now, trying to make sense of this unprecedented situation.
One thing I do know, though, is that the city I live in, love, and call home just lost the biggest sporting event in its history because legislators wanted to deny a basic right to certain sports fans.