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.


Greta Van Susteren And The ‘Dirty’ Phone Call

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Greta Van Susteren didn’t just fall off the turnip truck:

“When reporter Jennifer Griffin said she was told that there was a stand down order at Benghazi, I got a weird call from the Obama administration trying to pressure me to get Jennifer to back down on her report,” Van Susteren recalled. “I thought the call from the Obama administration was dirty. Incidentally, I don’t control my colleagues and they don’t control me.”

“The Obama administration’s behavior post-Benghazi has been weird, like they’re hiding something,” explained Van Susteren.”First, that silly story about that video. Remember [National Security Adviser] Susan Rice on all the Sunday talk shows? And even President Obama kept talking about the video for weeks.”

“Are you suspicious?” Van Susteren concluded in her “Off the Record” segment. “I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t born yesterday.”


One Of The Good Guys

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:24 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy passed away today at age 93. Truett’s life is the epitome of an American success story. In spite of humble beginnings and through hard work, he was able to achieve greatness and become a billionaire.

Starting at age 8, he sold soft drinks and magazines, and then began delivering newspapers, winning awards for signing up new Atlanta Journal subscribers, according to his family’s Web site. His mother took in boarders to help pay the bills.

The chicken chain that Mr. Cathy started in Georgia in 1946 grew to more than 1,800 restaurants in 39 states and the nation’s capital, according to the Atlanta-based company’s Web site. Chick-fil-A is valued at about $5.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Cathy had a net worth of $1.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Cathy kept things simple and real, as evidenced by the company’s mission statement:

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

And in 2012, when accused by gay rights groups of having financially supported religious groups participating in the debate defining gay marriage, Cathy’s son Dan freely acknowledged their position:

“Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Protests and petitions ensued, but in spite of thug tactics, Chik-fil-A came out of it with nary a scratch, in fact, even more successful, perhaps because of the protests.

A few of Cathy’s nuggets:

On Christianity and business:

“Sometimes people ask if they have to be a Christian to work at Chick-fil-A. I say, ‘Not at all, but we ask that you make your business decisions based on biblical principles.’ There seem to be no conflicts when we tell people of various faiths how important it is to stick to the Scriptures in business decisions.”

“I see no conflict whatsoever between Christianity and good business practices. … People say you can’t mix business with religion. I say there’s no other way.”

On closing on Sundays:

“People appreciate you being consistent with your faith. It’s a silent witness to the Lord when people go into shopping malls, and everyone is bustling, and you see that Chick-fil-A is closed.”

And further:

Cathy believes that by giving employees Sunday off as a day for family, worship, fellowship or rest, the company attracts quality people. And people, Cathy says, are the cornerstone of all that Chick-fil-A does as a chain, work and family.

Cathy was a man who didn’t just blather on about values and principles. Rather, he lived them. A self-made man who had no fear of hard work and a man who lived by his principles – this is someone I hold in high regard. May his heavenly reward be sweet.


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