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mr.nascar13

ATL Hawks to be sold due to offensive email

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Danny Ferry, heck of a guy.

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What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company. Did he do this is the right way? I cannot say yes or no as I am not a CEO of a major company, but I completely understand why this research was done and why he wanted to enhance profits. I don't personally think he meant anything racist in the email and I know for sure he is not Donald Sterling. He is a business man that wanted more money from his team. He should have went about this in a different way by hiring an outside firm to do the research for him and letting them take ownership of their findings.

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Reports are that Clay Bennett is calling a press conference today to say that black people can't swim. Most curiously, this is all the press conference will consist of, other than perhaps some finger-rubbing gestures and exaggerated coughing.

If time persists, Bennett will recite a 237-page thesis on why Seattle isn't yet equipped for NBA basketball.

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What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company.

Yes, major retailers can be racist too.

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Kareem checks in:

http://time.com/3296175/bruce-levenson-atlanta-hawks-racist-email-kareem-abdul-jabbar/

Sure, there are a few assumptions he makes that make me cringe a little: “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.” On the other hand, I have no evidence that he’s wrong on either count. Even if he is, the question still needed to be raised because racism is a realistic possibility as to why whites in Atlanta, Georgia may not be coming.

To Levenson’s credit, in that same paragraph, he dismisses fans who complained about the arena’s site as being code for racist fear that “there are too many blacks at the games.” He further decries the white perception that even though the percentage of blacks in attendance had lessened, that they still feel it’s higher and therefore somehow threatening. His outrage seems authentic.

Business people 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 gaffs 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.

The thing that makes me mad is that Levenson was too quick to rend his clothing and shout mea culpa. In his apology, he wrote: “By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.” But that’s not the message in the email at all. If the seats had all been filled, even if all by blacks, the email wouldn’t have been written. He wasn’t valuing white fans over blacks, he was trying to figure out a way to change what he thought was the white perception in Atlanta so he could sell more tickets. That’s his job.

Unrelated, but the comment about Luol Deng was that as good as he is, he "has a little African in him." Unless Luol Deng is pregnant like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1994 hit film Junior, I don't know what this means. He's from Sudan! He has like 100-percent African in him! And apparently it's served him well because statistically, he's one of the best Chicago Bulls of all time, behind all the usual suspects but right up there for his 9+ seasons of work.

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I dunno, I'm from a city whose team's draft strategy for a few years was "draft good ole white boys" so I'd find it hard to believe this isn't a sentiment shared around the league.

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And Pat Riley said "Deng is one of the most important free agent signings we have ever had in the history of the franchise." So I guess NBA scouting reports have a wide range...

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What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company.

Yes, major retailers can be racist too.
I'm sorry, I just don't see this email as being bigoted in nature. He decries the attitude white fans have as being "racist garbage."

You claimed that he got "close to the line." No debate there. I just don't think he crossed it. And that's not enought to brand him a racist.

I dunno, I'm from a city whose team's draft strategy for a few years was "draft good ole white boys" so I'd find it hard to believe this isn't a sentiment shared around the league.

The Atlanta Thrashers (same ownership group!) had a strategy of "sign every black player in the NHL." I doubt that business model and sentiment was shared with the rest of the league.

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I dunno, I'm from a city whose team's draft strategy for a few years was "draft good ole white boys" so I'd find it hard to believe this isn't a sentiment shared around the league.

The Atlanta Thrashers (same ownership group!) had a strategy of "sign every black player in the NHL." I doubt that business model and sentiment was shared with the rest of the league.

Meanwhile in MLS, Chivas USA had their own strategy of "signing Mexican-national players only."

However, I doubt this strategy was flawed for Major League Soccer. I mean, those bi-seasonal sellouts of 2,000 people per game are mighty, mighty impressive!

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If the Hawks just wanted to do the right thing, they'd launch Danny Ferry into the sun. Here's a guy who thinks NBA model citizen Luol Deng has the personality profile of a shopkeeper who sells contraband in the back alley. Imagine what he says about Ron Artest! Instead, they're making a big to-do out of it to get some money while the righteous indignation iron is hot. Atlanta Spirit forever sucks.

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What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company.

Yes, major retailers can be racist too.

How would you go about demographic analysis then? God forbid we accept the fact that this is a business and that making money is the sole objective. This isn't racism, this is business. Sad to see the owner fall victim to his own 'brainwashed' self, unless this was just a tactic to get the team sold.

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What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company.

Yes, major retailers can be racist too.
I'm sorry, I just don't see this email as being bigoted in nature. He decries the attitude white fans have as being "racist garbage."

You claimed that he got "close to the line." No debate there. I just don't think he crossed it. And that's not enought to brand him a racist.

I'm not branding him a racist, although I have argued that he walked right up to the line of saying something racist and then fell over it. But individual acts don't necessarily reflect his totality.

Not the only one to be guilty of this, confusing trends amongst demographic groups for fixed characteristics of individuals within that group.

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Good perspective from Rembert Browne here:

But before heralding Bruce Levenson as a champion of honesty, there is a follow-up question: Why bring this up? Even in an email directed at game operations managers, why assume these issues of race are more pressing than luring the rich to an arena with a team the city actually cares about? The home of the Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia Dome, has become a nice mix of a black nightclub, a UGA tailgate, a family outing, and a good-old-boy convention. That environment couldn’t be any more electric and unified. Let’s take it further: Even though the league’s season-ticket holder demographic is 35-to-55-year-old white males, and that’s something to consider, there isn’t any other city in America with as many black people with money that like to spend their black money while other people watch like Atlanta.

Why did money immediately become white money? Has attracting the black upper class to games just proven impossible? Or has it not happened? Or do they just not know how to communicate with the black upper class? Or do they just not want to?

But I thought no one cared about the Falcons. Hm.

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when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can't get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league.

i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don't know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

Translation: "Geez, racism really sucks when it gets in the way of my pocketbook. But only when it gets in the way of my pocketbook."

What the owner of the Hawks did is basically what Google and large retailers do every single day. He profiled people and found staggering evidence and wanted to change the landscape of his company. Did he do this is the right way? I cannot say yes or no as I am not a CEO of a major company, but I completely understand why this research was done and why he wanted to enhance profits. I don't personally think he meant anything racist in the email and I know for sure he is not Donald Sterling. He is a business man that wanted more money from his team. He should have went about this in a different way by hiring an outside firm to do the research for him and letting them take ownership of their findings.

Racism and "just business" are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they're intertwined more often than not; and even then, the latter doesn't justify the former.

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You're really reaching with the "but only..." part of your statement. It's hard to read that sentiment from the letter.

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Considering Levinson started out by complaining about revenues, doesn't seem like much of a reach at all.

He's not complaining about racist attitudes surrounding the games except in as far as they affect the season ticket base.

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Considering Levinson started out by complaining about revenues, doesn't seem like much of a reach at all.

He's not complaining about racist attitudes surrounding the games except in as far as they affect the season ticket base.

That's just an excerpt. Even then, I still don't see anything that implies "racism is OK, just not when it hurts us financially".

From: Bruce Levenson

To: Ferry, Danny
CC: Foreman, Todd (ucg.com); Peskowitz, Ed (ucg.com)
Sent: 8/25/2012 11:47:02 PM
Subject: Re: Business/Game ops
1. from day one i have been impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the arena staff — food vendors, ushers, ticket takers, etc. in our early years when i would bring folks from dc they were blown away by the contrast between abe pollin's arena and philips. some of this is attributable to southern hospital and manners but bob and his staff do a good job of training. To this day, I can not get the ushers to call me Bruce yet they insist on me calling them by their first names.
2. the non-premium area food is better than most arenas, though that is not saying much. i think there is room for improvement and creativity. Levy is our food vendor so we don't have much control but they have been good partners. i have wished we had some inconic offereing like boog's barbeque at the baseball stadium in balt.
3. our new restaurant, red, just opened so too early for me to give you my thoughts.
4. Regarding game ops, i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn't much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can't get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice 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
— we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
Then i start looking around at other arenas. It is completely different. Even DC with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.
Before we bought the hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the nba's urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don't know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.
I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white cheerleaders and while i don't care what the color of the artist is, i want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that's our season tixs demo. i have also balked when every fan picked out of crowd to shoot shots in some time out contest is black. I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black.
Gradually things have changed. My unscientific guess is that our crowd is 40 pct black now, still four to five times all other teams. And my further guess is that 40 pct still feels like 70 pet to some whites at our games. Our bars are still overwhelmingly black.
This is obviously a sensitive topic, but sadly i think it is far and way the number one reason our season ticket base is so low.
And many of our black fans don't have the spendable income which explains why our f&b and merchandise sales are so low. At all white thrasher games sales were nearly triple what they are at hawks games (the extra intermission explains some of that but not all).
Regardless of what time a game starts, we have the latest arriving crowd in the league. It often looks and sounds empty when the team takes the floor.
In the past two years, we have created a section of rowdy college students that has been a big plus. And we do a lot of very clever stuff during time outs to entertain the crowd. Our kiss cam is better done than any in the league.
We have all the same halftime acts that other arenas have but i question whether they make sense. people are on their cell phones during half time. i wonder if flashing on the scoreboard "$2 off on hot dogs during halftime tonight" just as the half ends would be a better use of our halftime dollars and make the fans happier.
We do all the usual giveways and the fans are usually their loudest when our spirit crew takes the floor to give away t-shirts. It pisses me off that they will yell louder for a t-shirt then for our players.
Our player intro is flat. We manufacture a lot of noise but because of the late arriving crowd and the fact that a lot of blacks dont seem to go as crazy cheering (another one of my theories) as whites, it is not great. Even when we have just returned from winnng four straight on the road, i am one of the few people in the arena standing and cheering when our team takes the floor. Bob has kicked around ideas like having the starters coming down aisles rather than off the bench during intros. Sounds cool but may highlight all the empty seats at the start of games.
Not enough of our fans wear hawks jerseys to games. i have just begun to push for ideas like discount food lines for folks wearing jerseys, special entrances, etc. I think we need a committed and perhaps incentivized fan club. We need to realize atl is simply different than every other city. Just adopting nba best practices is not enough. we have to create our own.
I am rambling and could probably go on forever. If you have any specific areas you would like my thoughts on, let me know.
Best,
Bruce
ps — I have cc'd todd and ed so they can chime in with additional or different thoughts.
Sent from my iPad

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