by Michael Lowrey
This time it’s Bruce Levenson, the owner of the Atlanta Hawks, that’s selling his team after self-reporting race-related comments that he made in an email he sent two years to team officials. A sample, per the New York Times:
“I think Southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority,” Mr. Levenson said in his email, pointing out that he had earlier told the executive team that he wanted “some white cheerleaders” and “music familiar to a 40-year-old white guy,” and that he thought “the kiss cam is too black.”
The U.S. population is 13.2 percent black. For the league to succeed, it needs to attract white fans. If that sort of internal email gets Levenson fined by the league, as appears to have been likely had he not sold, then the league is indeed in deep trouble.
Bonus observation. The Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs the past seven years… and were 28th of 30 NBA teams in attendance last season. Which gets us to this:
“I think [Atlanta is] the toughest market in the United States,” said Bill Sutton, a professor of sports business at the University of South Florida. “It’s a transplant market. It’s an SEC market. It’s a market that hasn’t latched onto their sports. It’s a team I would have already expected to be up for sale.”