North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” Causes Loss of NACC, ACC, CAA Championship Games
Thanks to North Carolina’s odious House Bill 2 (HB2) that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender listed on one’s birth certificate, the NCAA is moving seven championship events this academic year from the state. This includes the first and second rounds of the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The organization’s board of governors cited as the deciding factor that the law “invalidated any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.”

The ACC also announced that it is moving all neutral-site conference championship games out of the state due to HB2. A statement issued by the conference council of presidents said that its decision “reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination.

“Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC championships at campus sites,” the statement said. “We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral-site championships for the 2016-17 academic year.”

While the decisions by the NCAA and ACC followed on the heels of the NBA moving its All-Star Game to New Orleans, basketball isn’t the only ACC sport to be affected. Other sports include baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s golf.

And now the Colonial Athletic Association has announced it will pull its women’s golf championship from the state unless the bill is repealed or voided by January 10. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, the CAA has 10 member schools in eight states.

Opinions/Demonstrations by Our Sports Heros
In a recent poll, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been voted the most hated player in the NFL for taking a stand against the growing number of non-threatening black people who have been shot and killed by law enforcement. He’s not standing during the “Star-Spangled Banner.” As the number of athletes from pro-to-high school level in a variety of sports are following Kaepernick’s lead, the amount of vitriolic rage it has unleashed is reminiscent of the nation’s emotional upheaval during the protest marches and race riots of the 1960s.

With Kaepernick now receiving death threats for doing what many military people died to protect – his right to freedom of speech and to protest—and with police departments whose officers take an oath to protect and serve threatening not to provide security at a game where a protest of our national anthem might take place, the flames of our national emotional hysteria are burning bright. Everyone, it seems is itching for a clear-the-benches brawl.

And sadly, the media fans the flames not only by reporting every word a pro athlete in any sport has to say about it but also by pushing others, like Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to finally speak out. His call for everyone on both sides of the issue to be held accountable and to not be a hypocrite was countered by firebrand Shannon Sharpe of FS1’s “Undisputed.” The African-American former NFL star says that Newton’s is trying to “play both sides of the fence.” All this creates a lose-lose scenario when what is needed is a win-win!

We need to call a national time out to recognize that everyone has … and is entitled to an opinion, even professional athletes. Follow your conscience but do it with the understanding that the ability to protest something is part of what makes the U.S. so unique –quit attacking those with an opinion that doesn’t match yours. Then let’s start a REAL conversation at the hometown, grassroots level to start to address the actual problem instead of just “shouting into the wind.” Put your passion and constructive energy to positive use.

Deification of a Sports Hero Gone Terribly Wrong
In a move that is hard to comprehend outside the Penn State community of hero worshipers of former Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno, the university announced in a very low key way that it was honoring him at its September 17 football game against the Temple Owls.

In its 2016 season promotions listing under that game there is a bullet point that says, “Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Coach Joe Paterno – Activities during the game will take place to commemorate Joe Paterno’s first game as the head football coach at Penn State — September 17, 1966.” The celebration included two short videos during the game.

There is no doubt that Paterno is one of the all-time great football coaches who was also a strong proponent of education. However, he fell short in his role as program administrator by caring more about the program than about confronting a sexual predator on his own staff. At the end he had to leave the school and football program he loved under a cloud because he didn’t take appropriate action concerning allegations of sexual assaults on 10 underage boys by his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky over a 15-year period.

While Penn State is trying to appease boosters and former players as well as ticket-buying fans who continue to push hard for honoring Paterno, it’s also trying to downplay its actions in an effort to keep a reputation of moral courage and rectitude in the world beyond the small town of State College. Neither side is doing the right thing.