Bravo, Bruce. Bravo.


The recent buzz about the Hawks being up for grabs caught eye, and not in a good way. Who would have thought a simple email with subject “Business/Game ops” would entail such inflammatory and utter disrespect to the African-American Hawks ticket holders. Well, Bruce Levenson single handily managed to tarnish the beloved Atlanta Hawks, and their audience is his 2012 email.

As an Advertising major I know the importance of trying to reach a certain target/demographic audience, but there is still some couth in which one should go about expressing this.  “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” is the justification that Levenson gave as to why the Hawks ticket base was not up to par. However, lets look at the location of where the games take place. Philips Arena is located in the heart of Atlanta where there is large population of affluent African-Americans.  So of course a majority of the loyal Hawks ticket holders would come from this area because this team is part of their home. Why should any demographic group be frowned upon or scolded for doing what the marketing and promotion teams want you to do—purchase tickets and fill seats.

It is quite unfair to blame the lack of  “35-55 white males” because Philips Arena has too many  “black cheerleaders” and “black music.”  Yet again, look at the location of the arena. It makes no sense for the Hawks to not appeal to their fans by playing music, and having performers that they enjoy. Besides the location of the arena, when is the last time the Hawks had a promising season? This is the question that Levenson needed to address because I cannot imagine what demographic would want to purchase tickets for a team who isn’t dominating the score board.

But did Levenson think for one second about the demographics of the Hawks players? Hate to break it to you Bruce, but majority of your team is—you guessed it, African-American.  In no way can I wrap my brain around how someone could cannibalize their already strong fan base by saying in so many words, “Hey black audience, we love your strong support for the Atlanta Hawks, however your lively music, and black cheerleaders are a tad too much for our white ticket holders. Please stop so that more southern whites can partake in this year’s tickets without having the fear of being robbed. Love Bruce.”

I am unsure of what is more appalling—Levenson actually sending the email, or the fact that he thought it was acceptable to virtually disrespect an ethnic group of supportive and loyal Hawks fans. More importantly, it saddens me to think that pure ignorance still consumes our society today. No matter how bad the numbers are there should never be a reason to let your biased views flood an email that could potentially put yourself and your team in jeopardy.

In the meantime, Bruce has managed to do one thing right, which is to sell the Hawks. If the rumors are true and if Doug Davis is to become the new Hawks owner, hopefully he has better email etiquette and a way to gain more white ticket holders, and try to regain its once strong African-American audience. But who do you know that would embrace the Atlanta Hawks with open arms after word of this email? I cannot think of any.

But before Bruce leaves I would just like to say thank you.  Thanks Bruce, the little hopes of me ever wanting to go to a Hawks game is completely out of the picture. I wouldn’t want another ticket holder in the stands to think I was frightening or going to “pick pocket” them.



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