Opinion: Parting Shot

PARODY: ACC plans move to Bristol, Conn., in protest over H.B. 2

An indication that the ACC will leave North Carolina is this recently spotted update to a sign near the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. (CJ spoof photo)
An indication that the ACC will leave North Carolina is this recently spotted update to a sign near the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. (CJ spoof photo)

Vowing not to be outmaneuvered by the National Basketball Association, the Atlantic Coast Conference will announce plans to boycott North Carolina-based collegiate sporting events unless and until the state repeals House Bill 2, Carolina Journal has learned.

The plan was hatched soon after the NBA’s July 21 announcement that the league would move its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because the General Assembly refused to repeal H.B. 2, a law passed during a special session of the legislature requiring all people occupying shared public restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and other similar facilities to use the one designated for the gender on their birth certificates.

According to the plan, discussed in emails hacked by Vladimir Putin and obtained by CJ, if H.B. 2 remains in effect after the 2017 long session of the General Assembly, all athletic events involving the four North Carolina-based ACC members — Duke University, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University — would move out of North Carolina and to a proposed “ACC Sports Complex” adjacent to the headquarters of the sports cable giant ESPN in Bristol, Conn.

The conference’s headquarters also would move from Greensboro to Bristol.

ESPN was chosen because its on-air personnel have offered regular encouragement for the repeal of H.B. 2.

The complex would have multipurpose facilities to accommodate football, basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, and other sporting events. “The complex would be like a mini-Olympic village,” said one email ESPN president John Skipper sent to ACC Commissioner John Swofford. (Both are alumni of UNC-Chapel Hill.)

“Even if H.B. 2 is repealed, we’ll have our own place to host games and can use the revenues to offset some of the erosion of our subscriber base,” Skipper said in a separate email to other top officers at Disney Networks, which owns ESPN.

As part of the plan, the ESPN channel that features college sports, ESPNU, would move its main offices and studio from Charlotte to Bristol.

Another email Swofford sent to the athletic directors of the four North Carolina ACC schools reflected growing concern among conference officials that the ACC would lose “moral stature” among liberal sportswriters and left-wing activists.

“We can’t let the NBA steal the high ground here,” Swofford said. “The N&O is already giving us grief for not moving the football championship out of Charlotte, and before you know it, Gene Nichol will be on our case.” Swofford was referring to a column published July 22 in the Raleigh News & Observer by sportswriter Luke DeCock about the conference football title game and UNC law professor Nichol, who writes a regular column for that newspaper in which he trashes conservatives.

In other emails, reaction from the North Carolina ACC schools was mostly positive. Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who publicly had called H.B. 2 “embarrassing,” told his coaching staff, “It will be a shame to lose the advantage we get from the Cameron Crazies [fans at Duke’s home court at Cameron Indoor Stadium], but we’ll be even closer to our main alumni base in New Jersey.”

UNC-Chapel Hill coach Roy Williams reassured his colleagues at the other institutions that any academic issues arising from holding so many events hundreds of miles from campus would be no problem. “We wrote the book on keeping our kids eligible using distance learning,” Williams wrote.

Meantime, the athletics directors at N.C. State and Wake Forest welcomed the moves. “At last someone will pay attention to us,” wrote N.C. State’s Debbie Yow. “Amen,” echoed Ron Wellman of Wake Forest.

Parting Shot is a parody based on recent items in the news. This parody was published in the August 2016 print edition of Carolina Journal.