What has been rumored for months looks to be nearing official. The NBA will move their 2017 All-Star festivities and game to New Orleans from previously-scheduled Charlotte. The move is in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law which was enacted earlier this year. Adam Silver’s statement regarding the law indicated that the NBA would move the All-Star game from Charlotte because the law did not conform to the values of the NBA. The league hopes to reschedule the All-Star game in Charlotte for 2019.
What if the law is still in place in 2019? What is the duty the NBA has to its franchise? The team will lose the money generated from the game. The team also loses the prestige of hosting the All-Star game.
This has become a commonplace move by professional sports leagues. The NFL was prepared to take Super Bowl XLIX away from Arizona if that state’s anti-LGBTQ law was passed. Indiana’s anti-LGBTQ law was modified following pressure from NASCAR, the NCAA and the NBA. A religious freedom bill in Georgia was vetoed after criticism by the NBA and NFL.
It may never be known the exact role these leagues had in determining the outcome of these pieces of legislation but their influence is undeniable. These league wield powerful coercive tools. Charlotte is expected to lose $100 million as the result of the NBA moving the All-Star game. If other leagues follow the same course the economic consequences for North Carolina could become dire. Politicians may also face negative consequences.
But again, the problem becomes that the teams are hurt in the process. While past efforts to pressure states have been successful there is no guarantee of future success. Legislators have a right to pass legislation they feel is in the best interests of their state. And if these legislators represent the citizens of that state, who is the NFL or NBA to impose their values?
The North Carolina law and laws of similar ilk are discriminatory. They are wrong. However, the NFL, NBA or other professional sports leagues are not legislative bodies who speak for the people of North Carolina, Georgia or any other state. They do have a responsibility to their franchises and to not take actions which cause harm to those franchises.