The National Basketball Association recently announced that it was moving its annual All-Star Weekend away from its original destination of Charlotte, North Carolina. The decision was made due to the league’s opposition of House Bill 2, which states that people can only enter government building restrooms or changing facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. In short, if you are born male but identify as a woman, you are only permitted access to the men’s bathroom. The NBA is still open to hosting its mid-season event in Charlotte in 2019 if there is a repeal or even an alteration of the controversial bill.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver intended to take a stand against anti-LGBT legislation by moving the site for the All-Star break. Silver is using his platform to make a decision that will extend beyond the realm of sports, possibly prompting other leagues like the NFL or MLB to make politically charged decisions.
As a globally recognized organization with ambassadors worldwide, the NBA will make waves with whatever move it makes. Thus, a major stand against a social and political issue like this will generate headlines. However, the NBA is wrong for doing such a thing, regardless of what message it is trying to send across.
First off, there’s no reason to penalize an entire basketball city for something that has no relationship to the game of basketball. Lifelong fans of the sport who were promised its first All Star weekend since 1991 now have to resort to watching it on TV screens and the state of North Carolina misses out on millions of dollars in revenue. It’s as if I were to renege on my promise to pay back a friend because his parents do not share the same belief system as me. No matter what message or social issue the league is trying to tackle, it should not prioritize these over basketball-related affairs.
Additionally, there’s no problem with individual players supporting various causes as they have done in the past, such as decrying racist comments from former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling or showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. They are welcome to use their position in the community to advocate for social change.
There is an issue when the entire association takes a stand because it creates the illusion that all of its members, ranging from towel boys to owners, collectively share the same belief system. Organizations that represent a vast majority of people who hold a wide array of beliefs definitely should be neutral on these matters so there will be no pretense of a collective opinion on the issue. Especially for a topic as divisive as this, the NBA should refrain from sharing its views because it reflects on all of its members.
I understand that the leaders of the NBA are trying to push for equality and gay rights, but it is simply not their position to comment. They are using their platform to send a message, but as an entity, the NBA should remain impartial on these matters. In the end, this is a social and political issue, not a basketball one.