“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.” With this statement in mid-July, the National Basketball Association (NBA) removed its All-Star game from Charlotte over concerns with House Bill Two (HB2).
Recently, college athletics has followed suit. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) pulled seven championships from North Carolina, saying the state had HB2 violated the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) pulled all neutral site games, including its football championship, over similar concerns.
None of these decisions will directly affect Davidson besides the fact that students now cannot drive twenty minutes to see Steph Curry play in the All-Star game next February. Davidson is continuing to host an athletic championship this fall. The A10 men’s soccer tournament is slated for Alumni Field on Nov 10-13. For a brief moment, head coach Matt Spear and the men’s soccer team did not know if the tournament would remain on campus.
Spear and the team were on their way to Seattle ten days ago when the conference met to discuss the tournament. In the end, the A10 decided to keep the tournament at Davidson. Te decision came down to two factors. First, the championship rotates between member schools, making it different than the ACC tournament, which is held at a neutral site. This meant that the A10’s decision was still in line with the choices made by the NCAA and the ACC.
Second, Davidson has strenuously opposed HB2 since its inception. After the A10 announced it would keep the men’s soccer tournament at Davidson, Athletics Director Jim Murphy issued a statement condemning HB2 and reiterating Davidson’s support of inclusion. Murphy said of the statement, “Hosting the tournament is a fantastic opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. At the same time, we wanted to reiterate our position on House Bill Two. It all seemed to tie together.”
President Carol Quillen added, “This is a statement about values. Te NBA, the NCAA, the ACC, and the A10 are organizations based around certain values like equal opportunity and inclusivity.”
Davidson is one of five schools in North Carolina to publicly denounce HB2, along with Duke University, Elon University, Wake Forest University, and Guilford College. Quillen, herself, also strongly denounces the law. Not only is it discriminatory, it contains all kinds of contradictions and flaws. But Davidson’s role goes beyond just opposition to the law. “It’s a real opportunity for education,” says Quillen. “HB2 assumes that there’s something called your natural sex that is obvious at birth. But that’s not always how it works; sex and gender are complicated.”
She also sees the people on either side of this issue talking past each other. “People who are opposed to HB2 say this violates their values of inclusivity. People who are for it say they don’t want adult men in the bathroom with little girls. They’re not the same conversation.” Quillen believes Davidson and its students can help push these issues forward by constantly reframing the questions and attempting to locate what exactly is driving all the strong feelings related to HB2 and gender. She recognizes that most people never question their gender identity, but that is obviously not true of everyone. At the heart of this issue is a lack of understanding between those two groups. “You have to have some confidence in other people’s ability to interpret their own experience,” Quillen said.
Sports continue to play a huge role in American society. It is inevitable that big issues like HB2 will end up affecting the sports because it is an easy way to get people’s attention. Davidson, due to its commitment to inclusivity, will defy the standards set by HB2 and continue to hold its sporting events in a private, safe environment.
“I’m happy that the tournament will be hosted here and proud of Davidson’s commitment to inclusivity. We have one of the best places to play in the country, and we’re excited to showcase that,” Spear said.