North Carolina is in the process of dealing with a law that has stirred a tremendous amount of publicity and controversy. Presently the state’s law, referred to as HB2 and commonly called the “Bathroom Bill” requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate. Aside from the LGBTQ community, the law has been criticized by the media, politicians, and even earned a rebuke from the White House, which called the law “mean-spirited,” as it sends the “wrong message” to transgender youth.
The NBA recently decried the law, and canceled its week-long 2017 All-Star game program that was scheduled to be hosted in Charlotte. The statement read, “While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
Discrimination of any kind clearly is the “wrong message,” for the NBA to send, not only for transgender youth as put forth by the White House, but for people of all races, religions, colors and creeds. That said, was the NBA sending the right message by moving its All-Star game elsewhere?
The NBA has a powerful voice, and one would hope it weighed the consequences of its actions. Today, the All-Star game has been moved from Charlotte, and it is big news. Perhaps it is even a victory in the battle for equality. If indeed it was a victory, at what price was it attained? As tomorrow’s headlines move to the forefront, the NBA’s announcement will soon be forgotten. Creating awareness and dialogue may have been a more prudent course of action. As an example, player uniforms might have contained a cleverly designed logo to promote gender equality for the entire 2016-2017 season. This statement, visible on television and pointed out by broadcasters and the media throughout the year might have created the desired awareness and delivered the same message more consistently than this one-time shock.
One can only hope that the NBA considered the precedent and impact of this decision. When the dust settles from this announcement, all that will remain is ill will, and collective punishment of the fans, businesses and citizens of Charlotte. The NBA has effectively made it politically incorrect to stage events in Charlotte. parenthetically, a city politically more inclined to vote Democrat, and support the cause being espoused. A new reality has been created in which going forward, numerous associations and organizations that may have considered the Queen City for their meetings and conventions will have to deal with the stigma created by the cancelation of the All-Star game.
The recently passed law HB2 can be repealed within a year. As anyone in the MICE industry knows, conventions are booked years out, and once this business is lost, it could take years to recover. One can only hope that the NBA, by virtue of its standing in American society has not effectively damned Charlotte for years to come.