There’s a scene in the classic comedy film "Blazing Saddles" when the town pastor is begging town folk not to take rash action against the newly appointed and highly unpopular sheriff.
He holds up the Bible and begs them to heed its word, but a group of men standing beneath the pastor aims their guns at the holy book and blasts a hole in it.
The pastor turns to the beleaguered sheriff and says, “Son, you’re on your own.’’
That is the situation the N.C. High School Athletic Assocation found itself in just a couple of hours after wrapping up its two-day spring board of directors meeting Wednesday in Chapel Hill.
Among the most important items on the agenda was a proposal to allow high school student-athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness, much like college athletes are already doing, by striking sponsorship deals with local businesses.
The proposal was passed by the association's board 15-3. But only hours after that news spread from Chapel Hill, the N.C. Senate added an amendment to Senate Bill 636 stripping the NCHSAA of the authority to grant athletes NIL rights.
That bill now goes on to the state House, and if it passes there, the remainder of its changes will leave the athletic association a shell of an organization, and high school athletics in the state will be all but rudderless with no leadership and no rules to keep its member schools and their athletes from bending and even breaking what few rules will be left.
Now that Republicans have a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature, there’s nothing Democrats can do to stop the bill from passing since a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper would be easily overridden.
For the record, I was not a fan of the NIL bill, as I think high school sports should be purely amateur. I was also concerned it was going to cause headaches for coaches.
But state Sen. Vickie Sawyer, one of the trio of senators who have been leading the charge against the athletic association for the past few years, made it sound like the association had committed some kind of federal crime, calling it exploitation of athletes and overreach to pass the NIL.
If that’s true, there are 27 states already overreaching because they have NIL agreements for high school athletes. Among them is North Carolina’s neighboring state of Tennessee.
The bottom line here is anytime the NCHSAA pushes an issue that has the least chance of being branded controversial, Sawyer and her two partners, Sen. Tom McInnis and Sen. Todd Johnson, are going to jump on it, brand it overkill and use it as an excuse to turn the rest of the Republican Party loose on the athletic association.
It’s a shame they are focusing their energies on making the assiciation look bad instead of trying to do something about real problems like access to health care, better pay for teachers and better schools for our kids.
But when your goal is revenge, not rejuvenation, that’s the kind of legislation you can expect.
While the legislators did try to shoot down some of what the athletic association's board did this week, other changes made apparently survived unscathed. Here are some of the major ones:
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