On Saturday, Maine travels to North Carolina to face Duke on ESPN2 at 5:30. Prior to the game they will be wearing specially designed warm-up gear to protest a law pushed by soon-to-be outgoing governor Pat McCrory that requires transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender as specified on their birth certificate. Many businesses, professional sports leagues, musicians, and others have protested the law by effectively boycotting the state. The NBA removed the All-Star Game, The NCAA removed men's basketball tournament games, countless concerts have been cancelled; but by nature, those protests have not been visible, let alone right in North Carolina's face. Maine's protest will be:
The America East conference has been the most visibly progressive conference on this front and, in 2012, was the first league to partner with You Can Play, a campaign started after the death of current Calgary Flames head coach Brian Burke's son, Brendan, who became an advocate for ending homophobia in sports. Back in 2012, Stony Brook men's basketball wore "You Can Play" shirts before a home game. Tomorrow, Maine will walk into Cameron Indoor in black and rainbow-colored shirts, a show of support orchestrated by You Can Play.
"It's one thing to boycott or not show up because of the financial impact and the message that would send," said Chris Mosier, You Can Play's vice president of program development and community relations. "But they wanted to be visible and the biggest thing is they want to take the next step. It's not just wearing a pin or a patch or a shirt. They want to be better allies. And they would have done this whether it was Duke or any North Carolina institution because (HB2) doesn't align with their values."
It's clear this is not a slight against Duke, simply the state the Blue Devils call home, because the university and head coach Mike CutAndPasteMyNameski have openly criticized the bill, with Coach K calling it "embarrassing." Still, if you want to make a point, there is no better way than to do it during a nationally televised game against the Duke Blue Devils.