Mac Engel

Texas should not jeopardize major events over potty law

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 31, has warned the NFL “to govern football, not politics.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, delivering his State of the State address on Jan. 31, has warned the NFL “to govern football, not politics.” AP

Greg Abbott has heard from the NFL, and The Gov of the Great State a’ Texas is not having any. Greg’s message to the NFL is you don’t tell us Texans how to live.

Davy Crockett told Mr. Santa Ana something similar at the Alamo, which didn’t go exactly the way it was drawn on the iPad.

At least Mr. Crockett and the gang in the Misión San Antonio de Valero were fighting over something worth fighting for; Abbott’s finger-waving moment at the NFL reeks of empty political grandstanding over a hill that is not worth the price.

Abbott warned the NFL, “They need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.”

Good point, Gov — it’s unprecedented in the history of the United States that a business or financial incentive has ever molded, influenced or flat-out authored public legislation.

Texas is considering adopting a measure similar to North Carolina that requires people to use public restrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

This spat is a fruitless exercise that could endanger the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to Texas because of our potentially new potty laws.

“If they pass this, do you really think U2 is coming here, or we’ll get another All-Star game in anything?” a president of one our local teams said this week, asking to remain anonymous for the obvious reasons. “We are all scared to death of this. If you don’t think they’ll do to us what they did to North Carolina you are absolutely kidding yourself.”

Our elected officials are in Austin to hash out the specifics of how they will spend our money to enrich our lives, which includes strictly regulating who uses what public toilet. Sitting or standing was a sports story long before the NFL and Abbott gave it a headline.

And this fight is simply not worth it for Texas, so just drop it and concern yourself with something that matters.

FYI: Texas Senate Bill 6 is a proposed law that would require transgender people to use public restrooms according to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

After a similar law passed in North Carolina, the collateral included the NBA’s decision to move its All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans this weekend. The NCAA has pulled several previously scheduled events from North Carolina as well.

The NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona because the state did not make Martin Luther King Day a holiday. The measure eventually passed and the game returned to Arizona in 1996.

Because of this law Bruce Springsteen canceled his show in that state, and Jimmy Buffett said he’s not going back until the law is repealed. Ringo Starr pulled his scheduled performance, although the bigger crime remains that he was ever a Beatle.

The NFL and now the NBA have commented, lightly, that neither is a fan of this proposed legislation. The NFL’s message to Texas is the same as the NCAA/NBA’s to North Carolina: We do not want to be associated with any law that is exclusionary and we will act accordingly.

Texas has hosted four Super Bowls, three NBA All-Star games since 2006, four men’s basketball Final Fours since 2008 (plus a scheduled visit to San Antonio in 2018), and the list goes on. That is guaranteed tourism revenue for Texans that, if this law passes, will stop.

You can dismiss the threats as just another self-important entertainer sticking their nose into something that is none of their business, but this is business. And no state has openly courted business any better than Texas.

Abbott can talk big to the NFL, but the league has affected policy beyond football before over its big game. The NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix after voters in 1990 rejected propositions to make Martin Luther King Day an official holiday.

When the league pulled the game, local businesses panicked and raised awareness and money so that in 1992 the same measure passed.

The Super Bowl returned to Phoenix in 1996, which, coincidentally, is the last time the Dallas Cowboys won a title.

These pro sports leagues, which are businesses, have leverage, and they are not afraid to wield it like a flamethrower when they are secure that they can take their ball and play elsewhere.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass says an environment where people are treated “fairly and equally” weighs heavily when the league chooses NBA All-Star locations.

We count on concerts and special sporting events each year to open the doors at the Alamodome, NRG Stadium, AT&T Stadium and other locales all over the state. To lose them over a toilet law that affects a fraction of a decimal point of the population is bad business.

Do I want my daughter to go to a public bathroom if I feel there is a chance of a sexual predator lurking? Of course not.

I know of no law that is going to stop a sexual predator from doing bad things. And never once have I used a public restroom, nor have I met anyone who has, who felt unease or threatened by a transgender person.

This potty law is as vital as the one proposed by state Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), who wants us Texans not to use the flag emoji from the Republic of Chile flag when referring to the Texas flag.

In this Texas legislative session there are issues worth fighting for; considering the potential losses as result of this potty law, this is not one of them.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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