February 21, 2017
Looks like the NBA's razzle dazzle over transgender locker rooms and bathrooms hasn't excited basketball fans. In a knee-jerk reaction last summer, the NBA yanked its 2017 All-Star game out of North Carolina because state leaders put the safety of women and children above the political pandering of the Charlotte mayor and city council. But if the move was meant to punish North Carolina, it backfired. Big time.
According to the latest reports, the only one hurting from Adam Silver's announcement is the league itself. Ticket sales for the game (which was moved to New Orleans) were in the basement, analysts said before last weekend's celebration -- with nowhere to go but down. On the eve of the event, the cheapest seats at Smoothie King Center in Louisiana were $184 -- a 71 percent decrease from last year in Toronto, where fans were shelling out $644 to sit in the rafters. And if history is any indication, the plunge only got worse heading into last weekend. "In 2014, when New Orleans last hosted the All-Star Game, prices fell 39 percent between Friday and tip-off on Sunday." Overall, Fox Business tracked, tickets to this year's game sold for an average of $1,007 on TicketIQ -- an enormous drop from 2016, when "the average resale price for the stood at more than $2,000." Even sales for favorites like the Slam Dunk contest and Three-Point contest were a bargain -- costing half as much as last year.
Experts like Jesse Lawrence blame the city's All-Star fatigue. But could it be that fans are just as tired of the league's political agenda? Sports used to be a refuge from politics. Now, with the NFL firing warning shots over Texas's Privacy Act and the NBA jumping through hoops to show its allegiance to the radical Left, most Americans are sending a message of their own: start listening to fans – not fanatics! ESPN is paying through the nose for its activism, as ratings fall faster than Colin Kaepernick's jersey sales. With the network bleeding more than a half-million subscribers (621,000) between October and November of last year, executives still refused to backtrack.
"As it turns out, ESPN is far from immune from the political fever that has afflicted so much of the country over the past year," the network's public editor explained. "Internally, there's a feeling among many staffers -- both liberal and conservative -- that the company's perceived move leftward has had a stifling effect on discourse inside the company... Consumers have sensed that same leftward movement, alienating some." The warning signs are everywhere: picking political sides may be hazardous to your financial health. Still, CEOs from Target to Penzey's Spices charge ahead, ignoring the consumer headwind.
And here's the irony: the bills these businesses are so intent on protesting actually defend their right to act as liberally as they'd like. Texas's SB 6 and North Carolina's HB 2 firmly support business like the NBA making their own decisions on things like gender-free bathrooms. Neither state believes the government should be telling executives how to run their companies, especially on policies that carry as much liability as this one. Even more ironic, the NBA and NCAA moved their games to states with similar laws!
In the end, all this protest accomplishes is showing how ignorant these commissioners are on the root legislation and proving how far outside the mainstream their leagues are. Meanwhile, a growing number of Americans have a message for the NBA, NCAA, and NFL: if they want to walk out on fans in the name of political correctness, that's their choice. Don't let the bathroom door hit you on the way out.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.