How the NBA decided to become a PAC

At this point, the National Basketball Association might as well file the required paperwork to register as a political action committee and begin dumping their enormous profits into election campaigns. In a move which I’m sure they think is scoring some points off the court, the NBA announced this week that they would move their All Star game out of Charlotte, North Carolina in protest of the states HB2 privacy law. (NBC News)

In one of the biggest economic consequences to come out of North Carolina’s controversial law that bans transgender people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities, the National Basketball Association has decided to pull the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte.

The league said in a statement Thursday that it hoped to reschedule the event in Charlotte for 2019, but that it did not believe the city could successfully host the game next year in the current political climate. A new location will be announced in the coming weeks.

New Orleans has emerged as the front-runner to host the 2017 game, according to The Vertical. Chicago, New York and Brooklyn are also being considered.

We’ve discussed HB2 at length here, particularly in terms of the rush by the media to paint the legislation as some sort of discrimination against gays and lesbians rather than an acceptance of traditional rights to privacy, so we don’t need to cover all that real estate again. What’s telling about this particular story is the manner in which the NBA has unwisely decided to turn itself into a political vehicle and the the less than serious way in which they went about it. In terms of the “dire consequences” being invoked here, the NBA really didn’t change much of anything. We’re talking about the All Star game. As with our other major sports, there’s very little interest in the game. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the season and it’s really just some glitz to drag in a bit more cash. We see the same thing in the NFL, where you can barely get anyone to bother watching their Pro Bowl game and it mostly serves as an excuse for the media and some of the players to get a paid vacation in Hawaii. You will notice that this announcement has zero impact on the schedule of the Charlotte Hornets or any of the teams visiting them for the regular season.

So why does the NBA want to turn itself into a political organization? They’re already learning that no good will come of it. The WNBA recently fined a group of players for breaking the uniform code during warm-ups and turning their events into a Black Lives Matter protest. In response, the players decided to refuse to even discuss basketball at a press conference after a game. (WaPo)

New York and Indiana players refused to take questions about basketball from media members in their respective locker rooms, expressing a willingness to discuss anything else. With her teammates assembled behind her, Liberty forward Swin Cash made a statement about the game, an 82-70 Fever win, and then Tanisha Wright stepped forward.

“We really feel like there’s still an issue here in America,” Wright said. “And we want to be able to use our platforms, we want to be able to use our voices, we don’t want to let anybody silence us in what we want to talk about. So you guys can ask away about anything that’s happening in society.

That’s really advancing the prospects of the WNBA, huh? Here’s the major problem with all of this. When sports leagues decide to dive into an issue which is clearly dividing the nation in a big way, they are going to automatically alienate half of their audience. Sports is entertainment, and we’ve seen the same thing happen in music and the movies. When artists decide to go all in on politics, they put off a large segment of their potential audience. Nobody is rooting for teams or attending concerts because they want to hear athletes and musicians weigh in on policy matters. They are there because those “stars” are people at the top of the field in their respective areas of endeavor.

The NBA is shooting themselves in the foot here and they may soon see the results in their box office sales and television ratings.