The 2017 NBA all-star game, which was scheduled to be played in Charlotte, will be played elsewhere. The league is moving the game to protest a North Carolina law. That law, among other things, nullified a Charlotte ordinance that required businesses to allow transgender individuals who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificate to use restrooms based on their own gender identification. Businesses can still allow transgender individuals to use the facilities of the gender they identify with, but are not required to permit this.
The North Carolina law is the subject of intense political controversy. The NBA has decided to participate in the controversy and throw some of its financial weight (the NBA will continue to play games in Charlotte, home of the Hornets) behind one side. It will punish Charlotte, primarily, even though the city passed the ordinance the NBA wants to uphold.
What to make of this?
The presumption should be against sports leagues trying to coerce states and localities into reversing their public policies. However, if NBA commissioner Adam Silver really believes there’s a moral imperative to force businesses into allowing folks with a penis to use the ladies room when that’s their preference, then the NBA’s decision to move the all-star game is understandable.
However, it would also be understandable if those who strongly support the North Carolina law on privacy grounds decide to boycott the NBA, and certainly the all-star game. Similarly, a boycott would be understandable on the part of those who don’t see the moral imperative Adam Silver perceives and resent his heavy-handed effort to promote what’s really just a policy preference.
Put me in that camp. To me, Silver’s stance is moralistic, not moral.
Boycotting the NBA all-star game won’t be much of a sacrifice. The contest is virtually unwatchable, and the contrived events associated with it — slam dunk contest and alike — aren’t much better.
A boycott of the regular season might not need even be necessary. Reportedly, a labor dispute is looming.
If it turns out that the NBA, which is rolling in ungodly sums of television money, can’t even keep its product on the court, Adam Silver’s bathroom moralism will strike some as all the more obnoxious.
UPDATE: The league explained its decision to pull the plug on Charlotte this way: “We do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.” This claim is laughable. Does anyone suppose that the players, fans, and the glitzy people who show up for NBA all-star games from out of town will have their experience diminished because local businesses have the option of allowing or not allowing someone with a penis into the ladies room?
“Successfully” in this context can only mean host “the festivities” to Silver’s ideological satisfaction.
The NBA’s rationale sets the stage for it to weigh in on other controversies where the excuse would be more plausible. For example: “We do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Memphis (say) because of the climate created by the decision of local authorities not to prosecute the police officer who shot X.” Or: “We not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Philadelphia (say) because of the climate created by its decision not to be a sanctuary city.”
Not watching the NBA all-star “festivities,” or even passing on the entire NBA season, seems like a good way of trying to nip Silver’s megalomania in the bud.
JOHN adds: It is remarkable how liberals always assume that their bullying ways are a one-way street. (Of course, to be fair, they usually are.) In this case, it would make much more sense for a commissioner of a sports league to say that the league can’t hold its all-star game, or the World Series, or a playoff game, or whatever, in a sanctuary city. That would have more popular support than Silver’s bathroom diktat. What would liberals think if a conservative (or populist) commissioner issued that order? One can hardly imagine the outrage. Personally, I would love to see it!