Friday afternoon, North Carolina’s three professional sports teams, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, all chose or declined to weigh in on the state’s controversial new law that bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.
The law, which is being branded by critics as dangerously detrimental to LGBT safety and personal rights, overrides all local laws concerning payment, employment and public accommodations and prohibits local governments from drafting their own set of anti-discrimination laws. It also requires that those who identify as transgender use the restroom that matches their biological sex. The LGBT community is not specifically addressed under North Carolina’s current nondiscrimination law.
As one can see in the statements the Hornets and Hurricanes released, the law is never specifically named or criticized, rather it is the action of “discrimination” that the organizations speak against. And this makes sense — while the opposition to the state law has been vocal and visible through columns, protests and other forms of social expression, it also maintains a large contingency of support by some of the state’s residents. The clubs both owe an undisclosed portion of their ticket and merchandise sales to these people, and, at the risk of offending them or the legislators, opted to offer brief, generic statements. They are not revolutionary, and, for the most part, kept both squads out of the critics’ and the supporters’ cross-hairs.
The Charlotte Hornets have issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/5IOzSjjncM
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) March 25, 2016
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) March 25, 2016
The Panthers elected not to offer a comment, with the Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Jones relaying the message:
Panthers spokesman says the team will have no comment regarding recent #HB2 legislation in North Carolina
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) March 25, 2016
“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events. We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect, and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”
The league’s sharp response to the law holds steady with its past stances on social matters under commissioner Adam Silver — it also throws the status of Charlotte’s secured bid to host the 2017 All-Star Game into question.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the city is currently in the process of funding $27.5 million’s-worth of renovations being completed at the Hornets’ Time Warner Cable Arena, so should the league actually move the game, it would be more than a big hit for the team’s social image. Moving the game would be a substantial loss for the city, especially when one considers the potential economic impact that All-Star Games tend to have on surrounding businesses.
While mainly addressing the subject of the now-unknown status of the Charlotte All-Star Game, reigning league MVP and Charlotte native Steph Curry offered his thoughts on the matter after practice Friday.
— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) March 25, 2016
The NFL is also dealing with a similar issue now, as a recent law in Georgia, HB 757, allows faith-based organizations the right to employ and terminate people based on their religious beliefs. The NFL released a statement on the matter, effectively saying that the state’s dreams of hosting a Super Bowl would be dashed if the law was upheld.