I don’t know a ton about North Carolina, other than it’s the birthplace of a lot of great musicians: Ben Folds, George Clinton, the Avett Brothers, Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Tori Amos, and Nina Simone, among others. I also know that college basketball is to North Carolina what football is to the South. If a college basketball team wants to vie for the National Title, it will invariably have to go through the North Carolina Tar Heels or the Duke Blue Devils. The two schools have 35 Final Four appearances and 10 national titles between them.
While teams may still have to beat the Tar Heels and Blue Devils this year to win the National Championship, the NCAA has ensured that it won’t actually happen in North Carolina, after they announced that they were pulling their scheduled championship events out of the state because of their heinous bathroom bill.
So far, Bank of America and PayPal have pulled business from North Carolina because of the bill; numerous performers have refused to play there; and five states and 21 cities that have banned government-funded travel (one college in Albany has already refused to send its players to play Duke). It is estimated that the bathroom bill will cost the state $5 billion a year.
North Carolina thinks it’s worth the loss of $5 billion a year in revenue to stick it to those uppity liberals and their equal protection laws. But when it starts affecting the things that really matter in North Carolina, like basketball, then shit gets real.
I don’t know who the most popular person in North Carolina actually is, but I would wager that Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski is in the top 1, and he’s calling the law “an embarrassing bill.” That’s going to affect perceptions.
North Carolina has already lost the NBA All Star game because of this ridiculous law, which requires that people use the bathroom assigned to the gender on their birth certificates and provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community. This may be a bridge too far.
The North Carolina GOP spokesman Kami Mueller didn’t help matters with a painfully awful response to the NCAA’s decision:
“This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team?
“I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking — and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”
The statement did not sit well with social media. This tweet is fairly representative.
Stop pretending to care about sexual violence in order to advocate for transphobia. Just. Stop. https://t.co/dgPap3ubaj— Jessica Luther (@scATX) September 13, 2016
The man who passed that law, Governor Pat McCrory, is probably going to have hell to pay. He is losing by — on average — six points to his Democratic rival in what’s normally the red state of North Carolina. Getting NCAA events pulled from the state isn’t going to help matters. Meanwhile, Democrats have apparently seized upon the growing unpopularity of the GOP in that state. The National Democrats are launching ads in the Senatorial race for the first time ever. It’s a tight race, with the Republican incumbent winning by 3 points in polls, although he’s probably hanging on because he does not support the bathroom bill.
Nationally, polls also show a tight race with Trump narrowly winning, but this really and truly is the kind of thing that might sour the average basketball-obsessed North Carolinian on the GOP.
More than anything, however, the rejection of the bathroom bill in North Carolina makes some of us feel sane again. While it feels like the ‘deplorables” are winning right now, it’s good to see that some organizations are still standing up to them.