Patterico's Pontifications


Looking At It Through A Different Filter

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:15 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In the latest adventures of professional sports and racism, Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson felt compelled to sell his shares in the team as a result of a self-professed “racist” email he sent in 2012 regarding the team’s fan base. Levenson stated he believes the league should have a “zero tolerance for racism.”

Levenson admits he sent the email to team execs back in 2012. In the email sent to urging them to get more suburban white fans at games. He then laid out all the problems with the current fan base, listing the following:

– it’s 70 pct black
– the cheerleaders are black
– the music is hip hop
– at the bars it’s 90 pct black
– there are few fathers and sons at the games
– the concerts [after games] are either hip hop or gospel

Levenson continued in the email … “My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.” He also complained that he’s told team execs, “I want some white cheerleaders … I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black.”

It’s interesting to note the varied responses to the same event.

First, a difference of opinion between Atlanta civil rights leaders, who want to meet with Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin to discuss what they see as “pervasive racism” at the ogranization, and a very different take from Atlanta’s mayor:

“The culture of racism undermines what we have built here in Atlanta,” the Rev. Markel Hutchins said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The sentiment that black people belong only on the court sends us back to an era Atlantans fought hard to end.”

But Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed [who is also black] said that, while he was offended by Hawks owner Bruce Levenson’s comments, he thought the poor attendance at the team’s games had more to do with its performance than race.

“We shouldn’t have a conversation centered on race when it’s really focused on winning,” Reed said in a radio interview. “Let’s not make it about race.”

Civil rights leaders in Atlanta said the latest incident emphasized the need for more diverse ownership of NBA franchises across the country.

Hutchins and others said they would seek a meeting with Koonin, who will oversee team operations during the sale process, and push for a full investigation of the front office culture.

Shaking his head at the racist label, NBA star and businessman Kareem Abdul Jabar doesn’t believe that the email is racist:

I read Levenson’s email. Here’s what I concluded: Levenson is a businessman asking reasonable questions about how to put customers in seats. In the email, addressed to Hawks president Danny Ferry, Levenson wonders whether (according to his observations) the emphasis on hip-hop and gospel music and the fact that the cheerleaders are black, the bars are filled with 90% blacks, kiss cams focus on black fans and time-out contestants are always black has an effect on keeping away white fans.
From left: Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Dominique Wilkins Courtesy of Iconomy, LLC

Seems reasonable to ask those questions. If his arena was filled mostly with whites and he wanted to attract blacks, wouldn’t he be asking how they could de-emphasize white culture and bias toward white contestants and cheerleaders? Don’t you think every corporation in America that is trying to attract a more diverse customer base is discussing how to feature more blacks or Asians or Latinos in their TV ads?

Kareem finds it the natural inquiry of the business person:

Businesspeople should have the right to wonder how to appeal to diverse groups in order to increase business. They should even be able to make minor insensitive gaffes if there is no obvious animosity or racist intent. This is a business email that is pretty harmless in terms of insulting anyone — and pretty fascinating in terms of seeing how the business of running a team really works.

No comment yet from Jesse or Al.


35 Responses to “Looking At It Through A Different Filter”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  2. Kareem Abdul Jabar is an Uncle Tom.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  3. Snicker. Sterling’s “racism” got him $2 billion for a team maybe worth $500 (not to me but you know what P.T. Barnum said). Smart move, Mr. Levenson.

    As for the NBA being a black peoples’ game, follow the money. The advertising money. To whom does Nike sell its crappy Chinese $3.00 Air Jordans for $200.00?

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Bruce wants out. For all the reasons he stated in the e-mail. And from the standpoint of a businessman he’s exactly right.

    f1guyus (647d76)

  5. Kareem is exactly right. The left has been claiming for years that diversity, for its own sake, is a virtue. Which we all know means any given group should have fewer white guys and more minorities. Because diversity. But when someone notes that a group largely composed of black people could use a little more diversity, it’s racist.

    Edoc118 (c37322)

  6. marketing is an indelicate business

    good on Mr. Kareem

    happyfeet (a785d5)

  7. Monday Night Football is on TV and I’d rather discuss the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice over newly released video evidence of him doing what everyone already knew he did. Seeing him drag his fiancee unconscious from the elevator and knowing Rice knocked her out got him one level of punishment, but now a blurry tape of him actually punching her done seriously upped the ante. It’s like a sentence enhancement, one punishment for being guilty of the crime, but double or triple the time if caught on tape? What’s up with that?

    Additionally, since they’re married now, his punishment and resulting loss of status and income also punishes her. I don’t imagine that comes close to seeming like justice to her. She’s just been mugged all over again.

    ropelight (36b164)

  8. My liberal friends on facebook are all lit up about something on Fox and Friends this morning regarding Ray Rice. It’s easy to find on Gawker.

    They don’t seem too concerned about this.

    One of these things is not like the other. All I can gather is that talking heads on a morning show are more important than a sitting U.S. Senator

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  9. Because if whites go to a black venue they may be subjected to the knock out game or mob attacks. That’s a way to attract a fan base. Of course in 2012 the knock out “game” was virtually unknown, so any hint that whites may not want to go to a majority black venue at that time had to be racist.

    Jim (145e10)

  10. From one point of view, the National Felons League should stay out of players’ lives for things that do not involve the game. From another point of view, its President would not be able to draw his $30 million a year salary (did you the NFL is a not-for-profit?) if people stopped coming to and watching the games and drinking Budweiser. And the players make a little bit of money too, I heard. Professional sports, in America today, are all sizzle and no steak, and if not for that image that her husband and others of his ilk threaten, Mrs. Rice might not have any of the bucks she married him for instead of just not as many.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. There is also this, which you won’t be seeing on the national news for some reason.

    I remember the first time I cold-cocked my wife like it was yesterday. Wait a second, that never happened.

    Full confession, though, I did spank one of my children once. I think my PTSD from the incident has driven me to post here. I am a worthless stain on humanity. All I can offer in my defense is I allowed my children to be born. For the trolls, yes, that is a reference.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  12. with stories like this and this and this and all these i can understand white fans not going to the stadium.

    who can blame them? i don’t go to the sketchy parts of town if i don’t have to, and i was raised there.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  13. This doesn’t mean and didn’t mean he didn’t want blacks there.

    And everybody really knows this – or should.

    This is no good.

    But the fever will pass.

    Sammy Finkelman (728434)

  14. But the fever will pass.

    no, it won’t. this isn’t a “fever” it’s arson, with the intent of disrupting society and setting one group of people against another for partisan political gain.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  15. only a fool business owner wants a more DIVERSE customer base — he wants the customers with MONEY to buy his product. He doesn’t care what color, nationality, sex they are.
    Did you ever ask yourself, when diversity of a group is used on TV to sell a product, the activity they are involved in is normed to whites. Why is that? I know. And so does the young college student (now deceased) at Tx A&M who went into a McDonalds where the crowd was ALL black. He was beaten to death just for being there and being white. Now why would whites go to a predominantly black Hawks game?

    sdharms (ede879)

  16. Lew Alcindor had the most artistic shot in all of basketball.
    I have always admired this man, work ethic, fairness and always seems to be doing good things to help people.
    God Bless you Kareem.

    mg (31009b)

  17. “pervasive racism” from an organization that has made not just a few blacks millionaires. The race hucksters want their cut.

    Jim (145e10)

  18. The email, in its entirety, shows a business owner trying to get his head around attracting a larger customer base.

    JD (548f4a)

  19. Civil rights leaders in Atlanta said the latest incident emphasized the need for more diverse ownership of NBA franchises across the country.

    All you need to do is change one word in that sentence and you have Civil Rights leaders in complete agreement with Levenson.

    Hint: fanbase.

    And achieving that goal requires just one simple word change again.

    Hint: players.

    Chris (0ba377)

  20. Kareem Abdul Jabar is an Uncle Tom.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 9/8/2014 @ 8:20 pm

    Not actually true, but it does mark daleyrocks-in-his-head as a Uncle Troll…

    I would also point out that this is ATLANTA, probably one of the few large cities in the USA where whites can actually identify themselves as an officially recognized minority on any legal paperwork where that may be relevant.

    So getting whites into the seats does, in fact, require deemphasizing the majority culture.

    Obama, Teh One... (225d0d)

  21. s

    Not actually true, but it does mark daleyrocks-in-his-head as a Uncle Troll…

    “The trouble with irony is, not everybody gets it.” Ray Wylie Hubbard

    the reason Atlanta proper is predominately black is because the white population moved out of the core to escape black sourced crime…

    i mean really: what SANE person wants to live in a ghetto?

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  22. huh? must have forgotten to close the quote tag…


    Not actually true, but it does mark daleyrocks-in-his-head as a Uncle Troll…

    to the top of #21


    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  23. Imagine where we’d all be today if a mature, expansive, confident Kareem been ready in 2008 to be the first Black President simply per force of his evident wisdom an equanimity?

    A whole ‘nother place I’d wager.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  24. I would say that the biggest problem is not contained within that email, but it is highlighted by the email.

    The people that tend to complain about racism the most, do not understand what the concept of racism is very well.

    Racism – n., the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

    Often times, racism is discussed and the key component of distinguishing an inferiority or superiority is completely lacking. So, in that understanding, what gets pointed at as being racist is the mere discussion of racial demographics.

    Sure, you can say that there was a form of bias in the email…there clearly was. You can say all sorts of things about how it isn’t right for him to target a specific demographic too. But at, no point did he exhibit a superiority or inferiority opinion about a race over another. Yes, he said that he doesn’t believe there are enough affluent blacks, but I do not believe that falls within the scope of Racism, but that seems to be the closest he comes (he also claims white people are afraid of black people though…and that charge is of similar magnitude to the money comment.)

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  25. Sometimes, I guess, you really do need the sarc tag.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  26. #25 was for #2.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  27. 16. I got to see Lew play twice for Milwaukee, the Big E the year prior, but not against each other.

    A decade ago Kareem was not nearly as confident and articulate on camera. God is blessing him.

    “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  28. Greetings:

    Thankfully this country has a member of a supremacist religious cult like Kareen Abdul Jabbar to explain the obvious to us.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  29. “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”

    Heh! I have not been following the story closely, but Sterling spent maybe $1.5 million on the golddigger. I may be off on the numbers, but in the end he sold the team for (as I understand) $1.5 billion more than he paid for it and $700 million more than its estimated market value. Even withut the personal relationship, he got his money’s worth off that girl.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. #29. It is interesting the perceived gold-digger intent of some of these women. In Sterling’s case, she was willing to be with an old man that she apparently thought held deplorable racial views of her own race and those of her friends. She stuck around someone with those views so that she could retain the benefits and status of his money. Where’s the principled stand?

    In Ray Rice’s case, his girlfriend, now wife, apparently is just fine with being hit and knocked out by her significant other. I cannot fathom a reason for this other than for the money and status he brings with him.

    For everyone else’s principled outlook on these situations, those that are closest to the injustice/crime, appear to be the least offended. No one on the internet that saw that woman get knocked out has been hit, but they’re outraged. The person that was hit is not publicly outraged…why is that? What is that?

    (I realize this is a bit judgmental, it is just an observation that may or may not be true.)

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  31. Could it be that Mr. Levenson’s questions went unanswered, or at least generated no viable solutions for a valid business problem: how to expand the market for tickets to the games. His concerns for the disincentives for those of the Caucasian persuasion are real to some extent. He looked for solutions and apparently found none.

    Then came Mr. Sterling’s problems that netted him some $1.5B and Mr. Levenson saw his escape route from a business whose future appeared clouded. Why wait until those chickens came home to roost when he could “come clean” with his unpure thoughts of years ago and make them a reason to end his ownership and garner a profit from it. Win-win.

    Just a thought; I could be way off base.

    gramps, the original (7adb80)

  32. redc1c4 and felipe – I thought more people would take the obvious bait given their extraordinary ability to hear dog whistles in every day words.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  33. I am from metro Atlanta, currently in London for a week. It was my first time flying out of the new international terminal. It is upsetting to me that there are so many exhibits regarding the civil rights movement in that terminal. It is a bit over the top, IMO. I think it is time to start pointing out how keeping the race war alive only hurts everyone.

    G (4e010e)

  34. KAJ looks at it from a business perspective.
    What everyone has to realize is that the Black Religious Leaders in Atlanta, and other major urban cities, are in the business of Black Religious Leaders.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  35. You know that our society has dropped through the rabbit hole when even Kareem Jabbar realizes that the narrative pushed by the left has no basis in common sense or reality.

    Mark Johnson (ecd980)

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