Commentary, HB2

Leading sports columnist: NCAA wimps out

Once again this morning, some of the most incisive comments on the saga of North Carolina’s LGBTQ discrimination law can be found on the sports page — in this case the sports page of Raleigh’s News & Observer.

As was reported in the post below, the NCAA relented yesterday on its North Carolina HB2 boycott in response to the weak and inadequate “repeal” of the law that state leaders fashioned a few weeks back. To his great credit, however, columnist Luke DeCock isn’t happy about it. As the veteran journalist observes in “Back to business as usual quickly for NCAA in NC,” the change yesterday was basically a wimp out:

“In politics, as in sports, you don’t always get what you deserve. North Carolina got what it needed from the NCAA on Tuesday, but not what it deserved.

If the NCAA was serious about honoring the commitment it made to LGBT rights back in September when it pulled this year’s events from North Carolina and threatened to exclude the state entirely from this round of bidding, it would have found a way to reward North Carolina for acknowledging the error of its ways while still punishing it for not fully repealing House Bill 2, some interim position designed to encourage the state to be more welcoming to the NCAA’s constituents.

That’s not what happened. North Carolina went right back to most favored nation status with the NCAA over the four-year bid cycle announced Tuesday, landing 26 events encompassing 35 different championships, including the beloved first and second rounds of the men’s basketball tournament in 2020 and 2021. Only three states were awarded more: Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana. Ohio, California and Texas were just behind.

The NBA, NCAA and ACC were all, to varying degrees, involved in brokering the inadequate compromise known as HB142, a step forward from HB2 but only a partial one, thanks to the unwillingness of the Republican majority to countenance the full, necessary repeal of HB2, and the new deal gave everyone the political cover they needed to get back in business with North Carolina. So they did. Or will shortly, in the case of the NBA.

North Carolina did get slapped around a little bit. The basketball subregionals were either going to be a 3/1 or 2/2 split between North and South Carolina, and Greenville, S.C., won out in 2022 over Charlotte. The state was passed over yet again for a men’s basketball regional, as it has been since 2008.”

After detailing which games will be played where, DeCock closes this way:
“Only seven months after the NCAA took a principled stand on behalf of its LGBT athletes, coaches, administrators and fans, it passed on the opportunity to match the degree of HB2 repeal with decisions that acknowledged progress while still encouraging further change. Instead, it’s back to business as usual, in North Carolina and elsewhere.”
In other words, caring and thinking people have a lot more work to do to bring actual justice and equality to North Carolina. Let’s keep at it.

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