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Commentary: NBA, LGBTQ, WNBA, BLM: Alphabet soup of inconsistency

Members of the New York Liberty basketball team stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before a game against the Atlanta Dream, Wednesday, July 13, in New York. During the New York Liberty's mid-morning game Wednesday, Liberty players stood in solidarity as they donned all-black warm-ups in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Commentary: NBA, LGBTQ, WNBA, BLM: Alphabet soup of inconsistency
July 28
08:20 2016

Bill Turner

Guest Columnist

The letters NBA, WNBA, LGBTQ and BLM circle around pro sports entertainment on the one hand, and possibly the two most controversial special interest groups on the other.  Except for those who have lived under a soundproof solid rock over the past quarter century, the initials NBA and, to a lesser extent, the WNBA, are household tattoos.

The abbreviation LGBTQ is short form for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning.  BLM is the acronym for the relatively new and much maligned (and, in my view, the much more misunderstood) Black Lives Matter movement. And, from the conservatives’ point of view, both LGBTQ and BLM are lightning-bolt abbreviations that are usually not spoken in the same sentence as NBA and WNBA; that is, not until recently.

Of late, in an unprecedented move, the NBA pulled its 2017 All Star Weekend out of Charlotte: a business – and, according to the NBA – a moral decision made in reaction to a so-called ethical and political judgment made by the North Carolina legislature that was centered on LGBTQ.  That takes us to yet another contraction, HB 2.  House Bill 2 is best known because it eliminated protections for LGBTQ, among other civil and human rights’ concerns.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the verdict by so much as saying it was boosted by the NBA’s business partners – Fortune 500 companies that are also known by alphabets such as ESPN, CBS, TNT, and ABC –who last year signed a deal with the NBA in the amount of $24 billion over the next decade.

This financial slam dunk doesn’t include other NBA partners that are the globally influential standard-bearers and house-hold names of corporate America: Coca-Cola, Verizon, PepsiCo and beer giant Anheuser-Busch.

In reaction, N.C. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said, “American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said she was “deeply disappointed” that HB 2 bill caused the NBA to move the game, which was estimated to bring more than $125 million to the Queen City. Some LGBTQ activists must get a real kick out of that irony.

The uniformity of the NBA’s relatively unprecedented decision to support LGBTQ rights did not extend to the judgment of its sister league, the WNBA, who last week fined the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury $5,000 each because players wore black T-shirts during pre-game warm-ups in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers.

According to WNBA officials, the shirts violated the league’s uniform policy. According to that policy, “all shirts worn during warm-ups must be the Adidas brand — the league’s official outfitter —and may not be altered in any way.”

Top NBA players jumped from the bench and social media lit up like a scoreboard following the WNBA’s punishment of players who supported BLM, calling it out like a double-dribble or a technical foul, as in double standard, raising the question: Does the NBA and WNBA play by two sets of rules?

What became of treating people the same? Who fouled the belief that what is decent and respectable for a man is equally noble for a woman? Does corporate America draw the line that separates the differences between groups such as LGBTQ and BLM when it comes to the fight for justice?  When it comes to LGBTQ and BLM, the NBA and WNBA should practice another way of putting the old adage “What’s good for the gander – a male goose – ought to be good for the entire flock.”

The way the NBA handled the NC/LGBTQ muddle, as contrasted to the way the WNBA/BLM tangle played out, had put a wedge between these two natural allies. Let’s add IM to the glossary of abbreviations and acronyms: Inconsistency Matters!

Dr. Bill Turner is a noted educator, writer and thinker who called Winston-Salem home for many years. Reach him at bill-turner@nullcomcast.net.

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