A Plea to Leave Politics Out of Basketball

By Kevin Sweeney

In college basketball, there is perhaps no greater experience than playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the home of the Duke Blue Devils. The legendary stadium, which houses the famous “Cameron Crazies”, the rowdiest fans in college basketball, is on the bucket list of virtually all fans and players of college basketball. 

Unfortunately, thanks to politics, the Albany Great Danes will be unable to play in this holy grail of basketball. The Danes, a consistent mid-major power that has reached 3 out of the past 4 NCAA Tournaments, will no longer be opening their season in Durham as had been previously reported.  This is not due to any sort of scheduling conflict or another basketball-related issue. Instead, what is preventing the Great Danes from a chance at an upset and a great experience for their fans, players, and coaches is politics. 

After North Carolina passed controversial House Bill 2, a bill that requires the people in North Carolina to use bathrooms based on their biological gender, in March, heavy criticism ensued. The NBA threatened to remove the 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina if the bill wasn’t repealed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. 

While the University of Albany isn’t forced to follow these guidelines, it has chosen to follow the travel ban in this case, stopping the Great Danes from traveling to Duke. 

While this is certainly not the platform in which to discuss whether or not House Bill 2 should be repealed, nor whether or not Governor Cuomo should be involving his state in the affairs of other states, I do feel that it is necessary to stress that it is wrong for politics to stand in the way of the lifelong dreams of athletes. In my mind, this comes down to State of New York and the SUNY (State University of New York) system overstepping in order to make a statement issued that will probably go unheard. Duke will find another mid-major to open the season with. The casual Duke and Albany fan may never even know that this ever happened. 

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of politicians’ personal agendas getting in the way of the people. Until we can allow sports to become completely separate of politics, we will continue to see athletes miss valuable opportunities. One positive news cycle is not worth punishing hardworking athletes. 

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