by Chris Gacek
December 2, 2016
On Saturday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (“ACC”) is scheduled to hold its conference football championship at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando when No. 3 Clemson plays Virginia Tech. This championship had been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2010 with an average attendance each year of 70,000.
Why the change? The Conference interjected itself into the political affairs of North Carolina when it decided to publicly repudiate the state’s rejection of transgender bathroom policies. Most outrageously, the ACC announced in mid-September that it would move ten 2016-17 neutral-site championships out of North Carolina. Hence the move to Orlando for the game tomorrow.
I have no issue with the ACC acting as a good citizen and promoting a society that judges young men and women according to their talent and perseverance. That is one of the great virtues of athletic competition. However, it is something altogether different for the ACC to dive into an ongoing political debate with the goal of overturning the will of the people of North Carolina and coerce them into submission.
The ACC was founded in North Carolina and has been embraced by it for many decades. Yet, at the drop of a hat, it appears the Commission has had little difficulty betraying those who have loved it for so long. And, make no mistake, it has done this by implying that the people of North Carolina are bigots. Nothing could be further from the truth. North Carolinians are merely skeptical about the wisdom and propriety of the government mandating that biological males be allowed to enter women’s restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and showers.
At the very least, one might have expected some humility from the ACC. After all, its new operating philosophy is novel, untested, and radically at odds with the biological basis of all human sexuality. Unfortunately, humility does not appear to be one of the ACC’s core values.
Over many decades, the ACC and the Christian community have forged an especially strong relationship in North Carolina. Good relationships are not one-way streets, and even the strongest partnerships can sour. If the ACC believes it can subjugate the rule of law to simple economics, it should think again. North Carolina citizens elected both their legislators and their governor. To insert yourself as de facto jury in this process and render a verdict on a law in which the ACC plays no part, is contemptible.
The ACC’s attitude resembles nothing so much as the self-satisfied arrogance of the Clinton campaign before the people spoke in the voting booth. The cultural elites running her White House bid managed to convince a multi-state swathe of America that it cared more about bathroom policies than whether men and women could find jobs and decent health insurance.
The ACC depends greatly on the continued support it receives from North Carolina’s local and state governments. Its member institutions are subsidized by evangelical Christians who, as taxpayers and voters, are needed to support its costly facilities, highly-paid Conference administrators, lavishly-funded coaching staffs, and numerous athletes—athletes who are unpaid, voiceless, and indentured to the Conference.
In an era of increased moral posturing and preening, perhaps the ACC’s business practices should be more closely scrutinized by those Republican super-majorities in both houses of the North Carolina legislature. Perhaps it is time for the much-condescended-to People to reevaluate the nature and terms of this relationship. Who does make all the money off those athletic shoe deals?
The ACC’s decision to enter the culture war as a partisan opponent of voting Christians needs to be reversed immediately. To the extent practicable, neutral site championships need to be rescheduled for play in North Carolina. Barring a return of prior policies and the recognition of the right of the people of North Carolina to enact reasonable laws regarding public health and safety, the relationship between the ACC and our community is indefinitely fractured.