Guest Editorial: GOP lawmakers pick losing hand in battle with ACC

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Republicans in Raleigh for some reason insist on picking losing hands.

The party, which controls both chambers with veto-proof majorities, is well positioned to advance North Carolina on the economic front but keeps getting bogged down with social matters that, we believe, really don’t matter.

House Bill 2 remains Exhibit A, although we would put a bit more than half of that blame on the Charlotte City Council, which forged ahead with its bathroom ordinance knowing full well how lawmakers would react, and that the Queen City would suffer disproportionately when boycotts began.

Ultimately, both sides that form the middle had to compromise on HB2, leaving everyone on the fringe angry. In the interim, the state lost money when corporations located or expanded elsewhere, entertainers canceled shows, and sports organizations such as the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference pulled high-profile events.

Lawmakers finally caved on HB2 under the threat that the NCAA would not consider the state for championship events through the year 2022 — and they looked weak in doing so.

So now five Republican lawmakers have given us House Bill 728, which, should it become law, requires public universities to leave athletic conferences that boycott the state. It calls for revenue from existing media rights contracts to be used to pay withdrawal penalties.

Relax. It won’t become law — but we see no reason for the conversation.

Direct your anger at Reps. Mark Brody of Monroe, Bert Jones of Reidsville, Chris Millis of Pender County, Jeff Collins of Rocky Mount and Justin Burr of Albemarle.

Brody needs to understand the relationship between UNC and the Atlantic Coast Conference is symbiotic. If, as just happened, the ACC were to boycott North Carolina, forcing UNC and N.C. State to find another conference, UNC and N.C. State’s athletic programs’ ability to thrive would be compromised, and most likely they would tumble toward mediocrity. They would lose natural rivals — and the benefit of competing in the ACC, arguably the nation’s No. 1 overall conference athletically.

More is at stake than wins and losses in sports competitions. Those universities — as well as Duke and Wake Forest, which are private, and would be exempt from the law — bring a lot of money into the state through their affiliation with a conference as prestigious as the ACC, which now boasts the champions in Division 1 basketball and football.

We wouldn’t begin to know how to calculate the potential loss of revenue for the state.

Do these legislators really believe this will play well with constituents, the majority of whom probably pull for either UNC or N.C. State?

The Republicans, even though they hold all the clout, have managed a remarkable number of losses in recent years, whether it be redistricting, voter ID, continuing efforts to weaken the sitting governor or HB2. This is another loser, but the biggest losers are most likely to be the five representatives should they insist on pushing forward with a bill that is nothing more than an effort to show the ACC who’s boss.

We will tell them: It’s the ACC.

The Robesonian, Lumberton