Athletes, organizations making a statement

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Athletes and sports organizations have always had plenty of clout with regard to making statements about social issues. Muhammad Ali, who passed away in June, was at one time an outspoken war activist and a prominent figure in the civil rights movement.

Ali considered himself a conscientious objector of the Vietnam War and resisted the draft. It got him imprisoned, stripped of his boxing championship, banned from the sport for three years and arrested. It took only 21 minutes for him to be convicted, only for the conviction to be overturned four years later in 1971.

It’s happening today, too. Colin Kaepernick started a trend with African-American football players by sitting for the National Anthem during a preseason game. He and some of his teammates were seen kneeling during the anthem prior to their Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams, and others remained standing with a first held in the air.

If nothing else, they’ve effectively generated conversation about racial inequality in America.

Now, sports and social issues are colliding in North Carolina. The backlash from HB2, which some argue can cause discrimination against LBGT people, continues to cost the state business. It started with the NBA moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.

The NCAA put its foot down this week when it pulled seven postseason events from the state. The Greensboro Coliseum was slated to host games in the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March.

This state, which is known for its passionate college basketball fan base, will be without the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and NCAA tournament basketball for the first time since 1985.

There’s fallout right here in Beaufort County’s backyard, too. East Carolina University was slated to host a 2017 Division I women’s golf championship regional at Ironwood Country Club. Not anymore. The only way the area will see any NCAA postseason action is if the Pirates earn the right to host something on their own campus.

A handful of Division II and III postseason games for men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse and baseball were nixed, too.

While people are entitled to their own opinion and stance on HB2, there’s no denying the amount of money that the state — and even local community — will continue to lose because of the bill.