| March 20, 2018

Column: Basketballs and Bathrooms

September 1, 2016

Basketball is a sport of strategy, grit, heart and — in more recent times — social consciousness.

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2), passed in March, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, has been rightfully dubbed as the most anti-LGBT legislation to grace this nation in recent years. Though the complexities of any bill are not two dimensional, the basics of HB2 are this: regardless of gender or sexual identity, anyone looking to use a restroom or changing room in a government building within the state of North Carolina must choose the room that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.

There are a few problems with this law, aside from the ignorance and prejudice it stems from. The law has no guidelines for how HB2 will be enforced. Are people supposed to present their birth certificate at the time of bathroom use? Will law enforcement be there to question genders?

It also displays the inability of certain legislative individuals to understand that gender is more than a word on a scrap of paper determined by genitals, and reflects badly on the entire state of North Carolina.

Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke Blue Devils’ men’s basketball team and basketball legend, spoke out over the summer in regards to HB2, calling the law “embarrassing.” This no-nonsense man is not only right, but his need to speak out also reflects the ways in which HB2 affects the world of American sports.

Many teams don’t want their seasons tainted by the possibility of discrimination against fans. As a result, teams and organizations are pulling North Carolinian schools — including Duke — from their schedules. The University of Albany canceled a game with Duke this upcoming season after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo halted all nonessential state-funded travel to North Carolina to show disdain for the state’s passing of HB2.

The Blue Devils aren’t the only ones feeling the hit.

In recent news, the University of Vermont women’s basketball team canceled their trip to play the University of North Carolina on the grounds that competing in a state where people may feel unsafe and disrespected would go against their philosophy as an institution.

In a cancellation of larger proportions, the National Basketball Association chose to move the 2017 NBA All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina. A statement from the league, released in July said while the NBA can’t choose the laws in every city in which they host an event, they didn’t believe they should host a game “in the climate created by HB2,” — a climate of fear-induced hate.

Sports, especially on collegiate and professional levels, are often passed off as money-eating bouts of entertainment that celebrate a “meathead” mentality. But, these recent events surrounding HB2 show that teams and organizations can be  socially conscious, forcing fans and participants to become aware of the civil rights issues that have risen as a result of HB2.

These groups are willing to cancel their events for the sake of making sure every spectator and participant feels valued and safe. This shouldn’t stop at basketball. Others should follow in their footsteps and some already have, including Bruce Springsteen and best-selling author Sherman Alexie.

It will take many more canceled events and visits to make North Carolina realize how abhorrent HB2 truly is, but the aforementioned groups have set the ball rolling.

Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert

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