One of the coolest things about this year’s Super Bowl was watching NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell eat crow when presenting the MVP Trophy to New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and the Lombardi Trophy itself to the Pats’ owner.
These were wonderful scenes after a special moment of greatness, a Patriots comeback from 25 points down, made even more memorable by Goodell’s presence.
During many months preceding that game, the NFL commissioner revealed an obvious vendetta toward the Patriots, along with Brady and Coach Bill Belichick. This included giving Brady a ridiculous four-game suspension at the start of the season for deflated footballs which I’m sure was designed by Goodell to derail the Pats’ 2016 campaign.
The rest, as they say, is history and the Super Bowl outcome was appreciated tremendously by me as a fan, one who’s not a dyed-in-the-wool Patriots supporter. (Unfortunately, my football heart belongs to the long-suffering Redskins.)
I also am not a fan of the UNC Tar Heels, but they are making a similar kind of history this year in light of everything that has been occurring on the political scene in North Carolina.
Normally, I believe sports and politics should be kept separate, just as there is a separation of church and state.
However, somewhere along the line, a bunch of Roger Goodells decided they wanted to make North Carolina — a great sports state with a tradition of major college and professional teams — pay for a legislative decision.
Of course, I’m referring to HB 2, the state’s so-called bathroom bill that sought to prohibit someone accessing a restroom based on their gender identification rather than biological sex with basically no questions asked.
North Carolina, specifically its Legislature, had the audacity to resist a McCarthy-like trend of being forced to adhere to social engineering it does not believe in or face blacklisting.
This has led to cancelled concerts by rock bands, the loss of the NBA All-Star Game and other contests including the most-horrendous omission of all: postseason NCAA basketball. I don’t know how many years you would have to go back to find a postseason in which the state of North Carolina not only didn’t host the ACC Tournament, but nary a one NCAA Tournament contest.
I’m sure we’re talking decades, maybe 40 or 50 years, and one notable example was moving NCAA tourney games from Greensboro to Greenville, South Carolina, helping to propel the nearby USC Gamecocks to the Final Four.
All because North Carolina’s leadership did not want to subject innocent citizens to risks resulting from a carte blanche situation of states or businesses caving in to everything demanded by social groups such as gays.
It simply is not enough these days to be tolerant of gays or to simply accept them. The rest of society also must celebrate their existence and become forced participants, so to speak.
And because legislative officials didn’t allow this state to be held hostage, thousands of innocent North Carolinians who depend on working at games or concerts for survival have been unfairly impacted economically.
Our state also has been the subject of ridicule and project pullouts by hypocritical corporations that are so offended by North Carolina’s supposed lack of decency they don’t want to do business here. However, these high-and-mighty moralists have no trouble getting into bed with truly oppressive nations such as China, showing their real colors when it comes to making big bucks off its massive consumer market.
The blow to our fine sports culture has been extremely painful, which includes universities such as Duke and UNC that have captured national championships and set a standard unmatched anyplace else in the country.
Yet despite every sports indignity that has been hurled our way, here we are standing at the precipice and watching a school from this state — the North Carolina Tar Heels — poised to win the NCAA’s Final Four Tournament that starts today.
Regardless of everything done to discredit the state of North Carolina and make it irrelevant, there is a good chance some commissioner will have to stand there and bite his lip while giving a trophy to a team from such a despicable place.
There will be at least an indirect acknowledgement that no matter what goes on in social and political circles, in sports the most important thing in ultimately determining who is right or wrong is what happens on the court or field.
So while I have long been a North Carolina hater, for this Final Four I am putting those feelings on hold and proudly uttering words I never thought I’d say:
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.