The other big sports story to emerge this weekend is Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson's announcement that he will sell his stake in the team based on a self-reported email he sent, in 2012, complaining about the overwhelmingly black fan base at Hawks games. Before you give him too much credit for self-reporting, though, keep in mind that this email was uncovered in July as part of an ongoing investigation, and would likely have come out anyway.
While Levenson's email called out the coded racism of some white fans, he also made a whole mess of racist observations of his own ("the kiss cam is too black," "there are few fathers and sons at the games"), and offered little in the way of solutions. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar defended Levenson in an op-ed, saying that while his observations were "cringeworthy," all Levenson was really guilty of was being a good businessman.
It is in that spirit, then, that rather than curse the darkness the way Levenson did, we've decided to light a bright, white candle with our list of 10 Non-Racist Ways To Get White Fans To Atlanta Hawks Games. Now, some of these might seem a little racist, but remember, we're trying to attract white fans, so you have to use a modified White People RAF™ Scale. For example, It's Not Racist If You're Just Quoting Statistics™.
Follow these suggestions, Atlanta Hawks, and your arena will fill up with white like the inside of a Twinkie.
1) Two Words: Gluten Free
This is a marketing trick that food marketers use all the time, boasting about how something really unhealthy, like Twizzlers, is "fat free," but in this case, you would label things that normally don't have gluten in them anyway as "Gluten Free!" Possible tie-in: Gluten Free-Throw Contest!
2) Replace Kiss Cam With 'Black Friend' Cam
Why make whites uncomfortable with that blackity-black "Kiss Cam," when you can highlight their sharing of space with a black person? Existing Hawks fans would be encouraged to appear on camera with a white fan, perhaps performing a "pound," and publicly cementing said white person's claim to having a black friend.
3) Get Black Fans To Teach Classes In Jive
Existing (translation: black) Hawks fans could be given discount tickets in exchange for teaching white fans to speak jive. As we said, this might sound a little racist, but it's not really racist, because like the little old white lady in Airplane, they would be teaching slang that no black person actually uses.
4) "Say The N-Word Free And Clear" Booth
Now, this feature sounds racist, too, but within strict guidelines, white Hawks fans will be the only fans in the NBA who don't have to ask "How come they get to say it?"
For a nominal fee, white fans can enter the booth and use the actual n-word in any of the following strictly-enforced ways:
a. As a familiar, affectionate greeting to their new-found black friend (on-camera is extra).
b. As part of a rap performance.
c. As a disapproving reference to some other racist's direct quote.
Season ticket holders will be given the option to recite the entirety of that Chris Rock routine during a halftime show.
5) Let Them Touch a Player's Hair
I know, I know, sounds racist, but how can it be, if white people are constantly asking to do it?
6) Grey Poupon Exchange
There are actually lots of condiment-related solutions, most of them involving mayonnaise, but nothing will bring season ticket holders together like a designated Dijon swap-spot.
7) Soul Pioneers Concert Featuring Rick Astley, The Commitments, Jimmy Fallon's Band
Like musical Maalox, all of that black music that's been driving fans away from Hawks games will go down a lot easier with a smooth white coating.
8) Out: Hot Dog Vendors, In: Foodie Consultants
Dress your concessionaires in chef's coats, and teach them to refer to stadium food using phrases like "flavor profile," "artisanal," and "sea salt," without changing the menu at all. No, that's not Miracle Whip, it's an "aioli."
9) Replace T-Shirt Cannons With Sweater-Vest Shotgun
Your arms are too hot, but your chest is too cold, and the last thing you want to do is go to a basketball game. Problem. Solved.
10) Halftime Antiques Roadshow
Nothing enhances an exciting night of b-ball like the opportunity to purchase some distressed furniture.