Sports Are Often A Social Bellweather.
Not an earthshattering statement. Sports are by their nature social, so not a major leap to assert they often mirror and amplify social issues, but some may not always notice they can provide the catalytic focal point for these issues to be addressed – that is, when the leadership in sports steps in to that space.
And I feel they do, more often than not.
If you haven’t been watching – and no one can forgive you given all that has happened this week – the State of North Carolina is currently considering legislative rollbacks that would among other things rescind certain civic protection of the LGBT community. As I have a number of friends in NC, I’ve been following this story via their Facebook posts. But today it landed front and center on my desktop, via SportsBusinessJournal, in this post on how the NBA and the NCAA have made public statements on how they are monitoring the situation, and both were very clear about their stances on the matter:
The NBA in a statement said it is “deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect.” while the NCAA noted that it was “one of the first organizations to express concern about the religious freedom law last year in Indiana”.
One would think that the Indiana situation, which was resolved in favor of humanity, would be near enough history for the NC legislature to call to mind.
Naturally they follow several companies who have expressed similar positions, but my business is sports, so I note the happenings here more markedly.
And while individuals will speak out, it is hard for them to uproot their lives and speak with their feet, and they have no immediate way to revoke their tax dollars. And corporations, too, can threaten to leave the state, but that is also no mean or immediate undertaking – and in the end, harms like-minded people whom they employ.
But the NBA All-Star Game and NCAA tournaments can be pulled and moved without profoundly impacting the more civilly minded citizens of North Carolina’s livelihoods and families. And while it certainly is disruptive to the NBA and NCAA event organizers, it is more than offset through principled action that enables them to sustain, and perhaps elevate their business.
So, to the good people of North Carolina who are concerned about the turn their state is taking, I say have faith. In basketball. Your state’s universal foundation of faith. Because through basketball, all will be made right with the world.