The NBA Moving the 2017 All-Star Game is Really Irritating. But Not for the Reason You Think
Last week the NBA announced that it would be moving the 2017 all-star game from Charlotte, NC in light of the state’s recently passed bill requiring people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological gender. That is an irritating turn of events for several reasons.
The NBA’s statement on the issue is chock-full of silly and hypocritical statements. Take a look:
“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community. [W]hile 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.”
Did you spot the absurdity? Don’t miss it because some of those statements are so silly that you have to feel sorry for…er…umm…whoever decided to write that nonsense. Let me show you.
First, the statement reads that the all-star game is a “global celebration of basketball…” Except of course that it isn’t. If this were just about basketball then the NBA would not even make a statement concerning a state law. They would focus on 3-pointers and dunk contests and let state lawmakers handle making laws. But, the NBA has decided that it wants to wade into politics rather than make the all -star game simply a “celebration of basketball.”
The statement goes on to read that the all-star game is intended to “bring together all members of the NBA community.” Oops, that’s another mistake. The NBA doesn’t seem concerned about bringing together “all” members of the NBA community. Those that favor protecting their wives and daughters from perverts seeking to exploit a bad law are not included in that phrase. The lawmakers that decided to do what was right rather than what was politically correct are not included in that statement either. So evidently, the NBA cares only about bringing “some” members of the community together.
But, and this might be the most absurd statement of all, the NBA said, “the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business…” That is nothing less than an insult to the people of North Carolina. The NBA may not be able to choose the law, but they can choose the countries in which they will do business. While the NBA won’t go to Charlotte, NC over a bathroom bill, they continue to do plenty of business with China; a country that has more human rights violations than North and South Carolina combined (actually, China has more violations than most countries in the world).
So the NBA won’t hold their all-star game in North Carolina but they do plenty of business with a communist country known for persecuting Christians, abusing people, propagating poverty, forcing abortion on women, and much more. Way to go NBA. Way to set an example for everyone of how committed you are to “equality.” Actually, you stuck your foot in your mouth when North Carolina was debating this bill hoping they would back down because of your pressure. But when they didn’t you had to save face by pulling the all-star game.
The real problem, in my opinion, is that the NBA is wading into a political issue. Rather than doing what they do best, play basketball; the NBA has decided that it wants to be a political commentator on a difficult and sensitive issue. So now we have an entire spor ts league that is sharing a political agenda with us. This is a bad idea as it is often hard to avoid being pulled into other political issues by special interest groups. A statement from the Executive Director of NC Values Coalition makes this clear:
“We are disappointed that Commissioner Silver has decided to cancel the League’s commitment to the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Hornets, and the people of North Carolina over the League’s desire to give in to the bullying by radical left-wing groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC…The League has decided that advancing a political agenda that embraces allowing grown men into the bathrooms and showers of young girls is more important than protecting the privacy and safety of the ir fans.”
The fact that the NBA feels it needs to step into the political arena at all is irritating. But it’s the fact that the NBA thinks it has the clout to affect the political process that is far more troubling to me. We’re talking about a bunch of guys that play a game for a living. They don’t teach our kids, rescue people, or protect anyone, they play a game. And yet, just because they play a game they believe they ought to try and scare an entire state into doing what they want by threatening to hold their all-start weekend somewhere else.
This is one more piece of evidence in a growing list of evidence that sports in America has risen to an idolatrous level. Whe n an entire league believes it has the influence to influence the political process, there is a problem. I don’t want the NBA to hear political commentary; I watch it to see basketball. I’m not interested in the political opinion of LeBron James, Steph Curry, or Kevin Durant. The idea that the political opinion of a professional athlete is somehow worth more than anyone else simply because he is a professional athlete is absurd.
Unfortunately, I think we will see more political action by our professional sports leagues. The NFL has certainly become more politically involved thanks to Roger Goodell’s influence. Adam Silver is taking the NBA into a brave new political world. And with all the immigrants in the MLB it seems only a matter of time before that league becomes a vocal political action committee. It makes sports harder to watch.
When sports are elevated to such a place of influence in our society that they begin involving themselves in the political process, we have turned a dangerous corner. No longer is this just a fun hobby, or a recreation for the weekend. This idol has demanded more and many have given more time, money, and control to it. Of the long list of idols in our culture, sports can with complete certainty be added near the top.
We must remind ourselves, and teach our children, that sports is nothing more than a game. It wields no influence; its participants are no better than anyone else. And any sports league has no business entering the political landscape of our culture. Influence must be wrestled back from the sports leagues and returned to the citizens it came from. Then, and only then, when the NBA threatens to pull t heir all-star game over a state law will everyone laugh and ignore their empty threats. And that’s what they should be, empty threats.