John Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants, says he finds the new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina "offensive," but that won't stop him from attending the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte next month.
"I personally find this law to be offensive, but I think at this point, to change the [location of the] meetings, I'm not sure what kind of effect that would have." Mara told Newsday. "We've made some pretty strong statements, both as a league and as an organization, on this subject.
"I have mixed feelings about going down there, but I'm not sure that moving the meeting elsewhere is necessarily the right thing to do. It may be more effective to take the message of inclusion and equality to Charlotte."
Mara is wrong — moving the meetings is exactly the right thing to do and going to Charlotte instead sends no message of inclusion. This would be different if Mara were to join a public protest against the bill in North Carolina or met publicly with LGBT people, but simply showing up does nothing. Bruce Springsteen made worldwide news and brought a lot of attention to the bill when he canceled his concert in North Carolina last weekend. Had he not canceled and instead made some statement of opposition from the stage, it would have gotten a fraction of the attention.
Having the NFL move its owners meetings would have a similar impact. It would be one more sign to the politicians supporting the bill that the state will continue to suffer economically and in terms of its reputation as long as it stays on the books. All the NFL, NBA and NCAA have done is issue statements of opposition to the bill, which have minimal effect as long as they're not followed by action. The porn site, X Hamster, has showed more courage by blocking access to its site from any North Carolina IP address.
The NFL has already said it's not moving the Charlotte meetings. Mara can still make a strong personal statement by refusing to attend. This is exactly what then-USC Athletic Director Pat Haden did in 2015 when he boycotted a College Football Playoff committee meeting in Indiana after the state had passed its own anti-LGBT bill, later rescinded. Haden knew that words weren't enough.