Our view: A Sign of the Times

KS Editors

Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson publically announced Sunday he is selling his ownership of the Hawks and no longer the owner. This was because of Levenson coming out about an email he sent in 2012 to the Hawks general manager, Danny Ferry, blaming racial complications within the fan base for low ticket sales.

In the email, Levenson theorized “the black crowd scared away the whites, and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”

This incident is now the second this year in which an NBA team owner said racist remarks. The first incident involved Donald Sterling, who was the owner of the LA Clippers at the time. His girlfriend recorded him admitting racist remarks about his team’s fans and minorities. There’ve been other instances when Sterling had said things similar to what Levenson said in his email but was able to settle them with a lawsuit. However, after the recording of Sterling was released, the NBA began holding sports owners more accountable for their racist remarks.

Levenson was more civil than Sterling, though. This week, two years after he wrote the email, he publicly announced his mistake and owned up to what he did, cursing himself in a press release saying everyone had a right to be angry about what he said and that he was angry with himself too.

These incidents reflect a shift in the times of ignoring or even protecting such acts and comments made by owners, coaches and even managers in the sports industry.  

The email itself was given up by Levenson and can be publicly viewed on nba.com. This in itself shows that the owners have had to change how they act, what they say and what they tell people because now the world is watching them with more attention than ever. An owner who sends a private message or speaks out of turn about an issue of race or gender can be booted out in an instant.

Certain owners in the sports industry have been stuck in the 20th century for a while now, but the times have finally caught up with them. We feel it won’t be long until another scandal will be revealed about what an owner might have said when he thought no one was listening, but we believe that the sports industry will crack down on them with swift action instead of relying on the excuse that they’re a product of a different time.

The above is the consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board.