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Thread: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    I don't think the point being made here: that Indianapolis supported the Pacers in the past so that proves we are not racist - I don't believe that is a valid point. Afterall we are only talking about around 4,000 fewer people per game compared to the 2000 season. I am sure there are some people who have never been fans of the NBA and the pacers because of race - that is true today, true in 2000 and true in 1990. So it is a factor, one factor of many - at least a few dozen factors as to why attendance is down.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20130220/SPORTS15/302200099/Bob-Kravitz-Pacers-attendance-woes-not-tied-racism


    This was in 1999-2000, back before Indianapolis became a racist town. The Indiana Pacers, playing their first season at Conseco Fieldhouse, sold out every game.

    This was in 2004-05, the season of The Brawl, but still well before Indy turned virulently racist. The Pacers averaged 16,994 fans per game and had more than 13,000 full season ticket holders or season-ticket-holder equivalents.

    This was in 2008, before Indy’s latent, simmering racism reared its ugly head. The city, and the state, helped elect Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, the first time Indiana had gone for a Democratic presidential nominee in decades.

    Since then, we’ve become a bunch of hood-wearing, cross-burning racists who simply won’t show up to Pacers games because we don’t like black people. Or so it has been suggested by Colin Cowherd, an ESPN talk-show host who is generally the smartest guy out there and has always been extraordinarily kind to me. (So I’ll repay his kindness by trashing his argument. Shows you what kind of guy I am.)

    You’re holding an organization to a standard that happens because of race,” he said the other day on his nationally broadcast show. “There’s no other explanation why people don’t go to Pacers games.”

    Well, actually, there is.

    There are a couple of reasons.

    Here’s the big one: The NBA season-ticket-buying culture in Indianapolis is dead, at least for now. That has nothing to do with race. That has everything to do with six years of really bad basketball.

    Here’s what Colin doesn’t quite get as he watches from afar in Bristol, Conn. After that 2004-05 season, pro basketball died here in Indianapolis. Ron Artest went crazy.

    Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and others got in trouble. The team made the playoffs, but it was an unlikable team, and the Pacers were forced to trade off all those players in order to change the culture.

    The result was five or six years of nice guys who couldn’t play a lick of basketball.
    After having the 17th best attendance in the league in 2004-05 — and keep in mind, with the fieldhouse’s capacity, the best the Pacers can be is 13th — they dipped to 24th in 2005-06, then fell to 30th two years later, losing more than 3,000 fans per game. And it has remained near the bottom since.

    The bottom line is, you don’t rebuild a season ticket buying culture after just one year of reaching the second round of the playoffs. Especially not in a small, relatively soft market, a market hit hard by the bad economy, a market that has seen the Pacers lose corporate sales from the likes of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marsh and others.

    While the numbers are still paltry — 5,000 full season ticket holders and 7,000 full season equivalents — the fact is, the Pacers have increased attendance by about 1,000 a game, a 7.4 percent increase. Fans are not Pavlov’s dogs. They don’t react overnight. For now, they realize they don’t have to purchase a season ticket. Instead, they can get a deeply discounted ticket to any game they select, and do so at the last second.

    All of this frustrates the Pacers to no end, and they have meeting after meeting trying to figure out how to fill the house. But it’s going to take time. It’s going to take continued winning. It’s going to take the kinds of solid citizens who currently populate the Pacers’ happy locker room.

    Maybe I don’t believe race enters into the Pacers attendance equation because I don’t want to believe it. It’s entirely possible I am seeing the world through my preferred post-racial prism, that I am being protective and provincial.

    But I don’t believe that a few poll responses on an unscientific WTHR poll — a few mind-numbing responses referring to a great group of guys as “thugs” and “criminals” — is somehow representative of the civic mind-set.

    Where does race factor into attendance? It doesn’t. This team drew great crowds when Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson and Antonio and Dale Davis were battling the Knicks and the Bulls. The team drew well in the early 2000s with Jermaine O’Neal and Co., and the big crowds continued to support the Pacers even after all hell broke loose in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Nov. 19, 2004.

    Atlanta, another city with a pretty good team, doesn’t draw for the Hawks. And that is a much more populated city with a huge black population. Is it race there, too? Do they hate Zaza Pachulia?

    Like the Pacers themselves, I would agree the team should be better supported. This is a very good team with a bunch of likable, approachable young players. They play the kind of basketball Hoosiers profess to love, a democratic style that features teamwork and selflessness.

    I also understand it takes time, a couple of years, to rebuild a season-ticket-buying culture.

    I would ask Colin to do this: Three years from now, if the Pacers are still a contender — and they should be — check back in with us. Let’s look at the attendance then. Let’s see if the Pacers are filling the house, or at least coming close.

    If they aren’t, well, then I’ll entertain the argument. Until then, no sell.

    The bottom line is, you don’t rebuild a season ticket buying culture after just one year of reaching the second round of the playoffs. Especially not in a small, relatively soft market, a market hit hard by the bad economy, a market that has seen the Pacers lose corporate sales from the likes of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marsh and others.

    While the numbers are still paltry — 5,000 full season ticket holders and 7,000 full season equivalents — the fact is, the Pacers have increased attendance by about 1,000 a game, a 7.4 percent increase. Fans are not Pavlov’s dogs. They don’t react overnight. For now, they realize they don’t have to purchase a season ticket. Instead, they can get a deeply discounted ticket to any game they select, and do so at the last second.

    All of this frustrates the Pacers to no end, and they have meeting after meeting trying to figure out how to fill the house. But it’s going to take time. It’s going to take continued winning. It’s going to take the kinds of solid citizens who currently populate the Pacers’ happy locker room.

    Maybe I don’t believe race enters into the Pacers attendance equation because I don’t want to believe it. It’s entirely possible I am seeing the world through my preferred post-racial prism, that I am being protective and provincial.

    But I don’t believe that a few poll responses on an unscientific WTHR poll — a few mind-numbing responses referring to a great group of guys as “thugs” and “criminals” — is somehow representative of the civic mind-set.

    Where does race factor into attendance? It doesn’t. This team drew great crowds when Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson and Antonio and Dale Davis were battling the Knicks and the Bulls. The team drew well in the early 2000s with Jermaine O’Neal and Co., and the big crowds continued to support the Pacers even after all hell broke loose in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Nov. 19, 2004.

    Atlanta, another city with a pretty good team, doesn’t draw for the Hawks. And that is a much more populated city with a huge black population. Is it race there, too? Do they hate Zaza Pachulia?

    Like the Pacers themselves, I would agree the team should be better supported. This is a very good team with a bunch of likable, approachable young players. They play the kind of basketball Hoosiers profess to love, a democratic style that features teamwork and selflessness.

    I also understand it takes time, a couple of years, to rebuild a season-ticket-buying culture.

    I would ask Colin to do this: Three years from now, if the Pacers are still a contender — and they should be — check back in with us. Let’s look at the attendance then. Let’s see if the Pacers are filling the house, or at least coming close.

    If they aren’t, well, then I’ll entertain the argument. Until then, no sell.
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 02-21-2013 at 09:41 AM.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    I thought that was a petty good column.

    Also, I feel that people have this image of Indiana that the place is nothing but a bunch of hayseed hicks. However, 25% of the Indianapolis population is African American. There are literally hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the community who can also go to games.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Well said, Bob.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    I've been through this argument too many times on PD so I'll just say I disagree with Kravitz and leave it at that.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Sollozzo View Post
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    I thought that was a petty good column.

    Also, I feel that people have this image of Indiana that the place is nothing but a bunch of hayseed hicks. However, 25% of the Indianapolis population is African American. There are literally hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the community who can also go to games.
    This is just an honest observation from my attending 21 games, 33 games, and 21 games over the past 3 years, but Young African American males do not seem like they enjoy going to Pacer games. They will sit there with the most bored look on their face like they could care less what happens. Even when there is a tremendous play, no reaction. Even during crunch time, no enthusiasm. Even when Grady tries to jolt the crowd to their feet, nope just gonna sit here. I this observation doesn't reflect all who go to games, but its just what I've noticed alot of the time.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    I came in here expecting to hate this article. I'm very surprised to find that I agreed with pretty much everything Kravitz said. The part about the Atlanta Hawks was an excellent point. I'm African-American... if anyone was wondering.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sollozzo View Post
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    I thought that was a petty good column.

    Also, I feel that people have this image of Indiana that the place is nothing but a bunch of hayseed hicks. However, 25% of the Indianapolis population is African American. There are literally hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the community who can also go to games.
    That's a good point. The few times I get to go to the games during the regular season, I don't see very many blacks there. Now during the playoffs, the attendance is more diverse but I noticed a lot of them were there to root for Lebron, DWade, and the Heatles last year and the Bulls the year before. The black community doesn't really seem to support the Pacers as much as they did back during the 2001-04 seasons. Maybe the black community would be a good marketing opportunity for the Pacers.
    Quote Originally Posted by vnzla81
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    Larry is not coming back, he didn't have a meeting with Orlando for not reason, yeah he is coming back to the NBA but not to the Pacers, the notion that he is a taking a year off and then come back is absurd.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    The article is good, but Kravitz, for effect, really exaggerates what Colin Cowherd said. I heard most of the radio program that day.

    Cowherd's point was that there is a nationwide "teflon" appeal of the NFL that the NBA simply does not share. There are probably many reasons for the phenomenon, wherein fans wildly root for the jersey in the NFL and don't care much at all about the character of the person wearing the jersey, while in the NBA the arrest records and attitudes of the players greatly affect fans level of attachment to the team. One difference is that the NBA markets the players while the NFL doesn't do it that so much.

    Another factor is that in the NBA the players are visible, you sit closer, you see their tattoos, you hear the hip-hop music culture that has been integrated into the arena experience, and maybe just since there are fewer players you seem to care more about their egos, attitudes, and vices. It's not hard for Cowherd or anyone to correlate ingrained negative images of NBA players with racial stereotyping. Cowherd went way too far in saying that it is maybe the main cause for NBA's non-telfon coating, compared to the NFL's telfon layer, and specifically indicating that Indiana was his prime example. As Pacers fans we were disgusted when they let us down (ala the brawl, arrests, laziness) and some people in our fan base said they'd never support those thugs again. Some people in many other fan bases would say the same thing. What's odd is that it sticks 8-9 years later, for a select few people anyway, with those players being long gone. In the NFL it wouldn't stick a week, unless your misdeeds reach a Michael Vick level. Even then, redemption is a couple of good games away.

    I think that there is a cultural bias for many that leads to lesser fan support for NBA players relative to NFL players in certain demographic groups, but I don't think it's greater than it has been at any time in the past, or specific to the Pacers in any way. I also think that it is a far less important factor than Cowherd thinks it is. I also don't interpret Cowherd's radio remarks (I don't follow twitter) as indicating that he thinks the phenomenon is at all unique to Pacer fans.
    Last edited by Slick Pinkham; 02-21-2013 at 11:04 AM.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    At the Pacers best they never lead the league anywhere close in attendance. I have said it before and I will say it again the biggest problem is the Pacers are in a small a market with really tough competition for the entertainment dollar. There will always be the race factor for some people. We live in a fallen and broken world. But that is not the reason why they have not done better.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    That's why so many people attend IU games. Right Colin Cow?

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    There is a cultural element to even enthusiastic fandom. If Cody Zeller had the physical appearance as Chris "Birdman" Anderson, there would be less enthusiastic support for him. IU fans would still fill the arena, I think, though. And while a list of most beloved IU players would have Steve Alford, Cody Zeller, and Damon Bailey on it, it most certainly would have Calbert Cheaney, Alan Henderson, Quinn Buckner, Scott May, Isiah Thomas, Landon Turner, and now Victor Olidipo on it as well. Maybe Eric Gordon would be on the most beloved list too, if not for the stench of the Sampson era. The most beloved players played hard, played well, bought into the team concept, showed toughness, worked hard, got better at their craft, and contributed to some level of team success. Has nothing to do with skin color.

    The most Pacers players played hard, played well, bought into the team concept, showed toughness, worked hard, got better at their craft, and contributed to some level of team success. They would be Reggie, Mel, Big Mac, Rajah, Paul, Roy, Danny. No difference. Has nothing to do with skin color. The butts somehow don't go into the Pacers seats as eagerly though, following the disappointments of the mid and late-90s. Why is the big question, and likely there isn't just one easy answer or one easy fix. But I think it's fixable.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    There is a difference between being racist towards all black people, and being racist towards certain kind of black person. I heard Jermaine O'Neal being referred to as a "thug" more times than I can count because he had cornrows and tattoos and punched a dude that rushed the court during The Brawl. Meanwhile, Marvin Harrison was adored because he was a "clean cut nice guy", even though he turned out to be a literal murderer.

    Now, is this the root of our attendance problems? I have no idea. But you can't sweep the issue under the rug by holding up a few examples of non-prejudiced behavior by the local population.

    My guess is that enduring racial bias from the Artest-Jackson era is a factor for a (no pun intended) minority of former customers, but not for a majority of the people who stay at home.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Oh boy...

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Come on now, we were an Obama state just 4 years ago.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    We had more white guys on our team at one point that the tv made fun. The attendance was terrible then. So It's not about race. It's all about paying money for fun entertainment and It's not fun to lose.
    .

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    George Hill Apologist mattie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    This.

    Quote Originally Posted by King Tuts Tomb View Post
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    I've been through this argument too many times on PD so I'll just say I disagree with Kravitz and leave it at that.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Seriously you folks who think it is about race, do you realize that

    1.) The main population base for the Pacers is an urban area that is actually extremely diverse?

    2.) There are plenty of well attended basketball games in the state of Indiana that feature folks of all different types and backgrounds.

    Look, I know Indiana has a history. I went to Brebeuf and played in a basketball sectional that featured Danville, Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Western Boone....we were the only team that had non-white players and this was in the mid 2000s, so I get it Indiana is still an evolving place.

    But blaming the Pacers attendance issues on it? Come on, it doesn't even make sense. You're telling me we can't even find 17,000 non-racists in the state of Indiana with the money to watch a basketball game? It's a completely ridiculous thing to focus on when it comes to the Pacers attendance woes.

    I don't know if I stepped over any PD political lines with this post and if I did feel free to delete it, but as someone who has seen both sides of this from my high school days, I just had to say that I find the suggestion that it is really impacting Pacers attendance completely baseless.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Folks were just loading up the stands to watch Travis Diener pass the ball to Dunleavy, Troy and Foster weren't they? And I'm pretty sure there were several games where those 4 dudes started.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    Look, I know Indiana has a history. I went to Brebeuf and played in a basketball sectional that featured Danville, Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Western Boone....we were the only team that had non-white players and this was in the mid 2000s, so I get it Indiana is still an evolving place.
    Hey, now, we didn't have the luxury of going outside our area to recruit, private-school boy


    Seriously, while lack of diversity can contribute to ignorance-based racism due to lack of opportunities to get familiar with different races and cultures, I don't think it is always an indicator of systematic racism in and of itself.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
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    Hey, now, we didn't have the luxury of going outside our area to recruit, private-school boy


    Seriously, while lack of diversity can contribute to ignorance-based racism due to lack of opportunities to get familiar with different races and cultures, I don't think it is always an indicator of systematic racism in and of itself.
    Haha, I'm just saying it never made sense to have Brebeuf in that sectional. Especially if you know the history between Brebeuf and Lebanon basketball at all.

    Danville was ok

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Colin Cowherd is just trying to stay relevant and the Pacers are easy pickings. He doesn't care one way or the other if his claims are baseless or not. Why should he care at all about the Pacers and attendance problems?

    The Pacers are just an exhibit A for his argument that basketball is less popular than the NFL. Its really pretty pathetic explanation for why one sport trumps the other and the obvious uncontroversial explanation is that the sport is more violent and physical. If anything the rise of other sports, see MMA explains why fans like less technical savy sports like figure skating to say ice hockey or Indycar to NASCAR.

    We like violence folks! There is your explanation of why the NFL is teflon compared to the wet paper sack of the NBA.
    Last edited by Gamble1; 02-21-2013 at 01:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    Folks were just loading up the stands to watch Travis Diener pass the ball to Dunleavy, Troy and Foster weren't they? And I'm pretty sure there were several games where those 4 dudes started.
    Yeah, I made this point a couple weeks ago when the race issue was brought up. In 07-08, we had Murphy, Dunleavy, Diener, and Foster. That was the first full year of Dunleavy and Murphy, and Dun averaged like 19 points that year, which was easily his best as a Pacer. Yet our attendance was a pathetic 12,221 a game, which was the worst of any of the past 13 years. We traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson for two highly paid white players who started, and the attendance went DOWN. Gee, that kinda puts a big dent in the whole racism angle, doesn't it.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance/_/year/2008

    And as mentioned, Indy's demographics are nothing like the rest of the state. 25% of the Indy population is African American. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans live in this area.

    Bill made a good point yesterday. Once you lose a lot of customers in your business, it's hard to regain them. The horrible 2004-2010 stretch ran off a ton of people who found other ways to spend their time and money. They are slowly coming back, but you don't undo six years worth of ill will in just two years, particularly when you don't have a Durant or Lebron. A similar example is the Indy 500. The deplorable 25/8 rule in 1996, which destroyed the chain of excellence that could be traced back to Ray Harroun in 1911, immediately ran off racing fans all over the country. I think the racing at the 500 has been very good over the last couple of years, but the people who were turned off by the horror shows in the mid to late 90's have shown little interest in returning. They moved on.

    The attendance will get better though. A big win last night can do nothing but help.
    Last edited by Sollozzo; 02-21-2013 at 02:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by Sollozzo View Post
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    Yeah, I made this point a couple weeks ago when the race issue was brought up. In 07-08, we had Murphy, Dunleavy, Diener, and Foster. That was the first full year of Dunleavy and Murphy, and Dun averaged like 19 points that year, which was easily his best as a Pacer. Yet our attendance was a pathetic 12,221 a game, which was the worst of any of the past 13 years. We traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson for two highly paid white players who started, and the attendance went DOWN. Gee, that kinda puts a big dent in the whole racism angle, doesn't it.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance/_/year/2008

    And as mentioned, Indy's demographics are nothing like the rest of the state. 25% of the Indy population is African American. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans live in this area.
    Then why dont Young Black Men like going to Pacer games? Cause I don't see very many at the games and those that are their act like they are bored out of their mind.
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Quote Originally Posted by graphic-er View Post
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    Then why dont Young Black Men like going to Pacer games? Cause I do see very many at the games and those that are their act like they are bored out of their mind.
    I don't know, I'm just saying I think that people from across the country view Indiana as being filled with nothing but hayseed hicks. My point is that there are also hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the community who can go to games. Does someone like Colin Cowherd understand that Indy has a strong African American community?

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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    Didn't Cowherd's show just come back on in the Indy market? Now you know why he went on his rant.

    I do think the "Indy's racist" stuff is getting overblown and he brought up plenty of good points other than that.

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  35. #25
    George Hill Apologist mattie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kravitz: Pacers attendance woes not tied to racism

    In fairness- I don't think Indiana is unique with this issue. A combination of factors has lead to race being a major issue effecting attendance. I don't want to discuss it further, I just wanted to note that many of us are not making out Indy to be uniquely terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trader Joe View Post
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    Seriously you folks who think it is about race, do you realize that

    1.) The main population base for the Pacers is an urban area that is actually extremely diverse?

    2.) There are plenty of well attended basketball games in the state of Indiana that feature folks of all different types and backgrounds.

    Look, I know Indiana has a history. I went to Brebeuf and played in a basketball sectional that featured Danville, Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Western Boone....we were the only team that had non-white players and this was in the mid 2000s, so I get it Indiana is still an evolving place.

    But blaming the Pacers attendance issues on it? Come on, it doesn't even make sense. You're telling me we can't even find 17,000 non-racists in the state of Indiana with the money to watch a basketball game? It's a completely ridiculous thing to focus on when it comes to the Pacers attendance woes.

    I don't know if I stepped over any PD political lines with this post and if I did feel free to delete it, but as someone who has seen both sides of this from my high school days, I just had to say that I find the suggestion that it is really impacting Pacers attendance completely baseless.
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