Colin Cowherd has done it again. The ESPN radio host known for his offensive statements and gross mischaracterizations and stereotypes has caused controversy once more with what else - baseless social commentary.
This time Cowherd, who is no stranger to race based controversies himself, said on his radio show Tuesday that Pacers fans aren't attending games in spite of the team's success this year because of race. Cowherd's opinion (backed up by the airtight evidence of a few random Facebook quotes) is that the infamous Malice in the Palace Pacers-Pistons brawl and association with violence is still scaring away fans from NBA basketball in Indianapolis.
So not only are you people in Indiana bringing unemployment on yourselves, you're also not supporting your professional basketball team because of race. Conveniently, Cowherd didn't share these comments in the same thread:
"GO PACERS!!! Paul George is Awesome.....Team is one of the best this year.....David West reminds me of Haywood Workman - - bring back those Hard Hats - - - Support these Guys - - GO PACERS!!"
"A lot of people don't work 9-5 anymore....or have every weekend off. A lot of times I have to DVR the end of the game then go to work, let alone be able to attend. We try to make 5 games a year."
"I would go to every game if budget would allow! Yeah they have cheap seats where you have to take your binoculars and tissues but in that case I'd rather seat at home and watch! Which I do do anyway! LOVE the Pacers!!!! Go team!"
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star took to defending the city from charges of racism saying attendance has dropped for the Pacers because of losses on the floor and a declining season ticket base. Not a stunning turn of intolerance from the home fans...
"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 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 if every team sells out its games 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."
Kravitz uses facts to support his argument. Let's look at more facts and numbers because those are fun! Malice in the Palace occurred in November 2004. Here's a list of Pacers attendance ranks and their finish in the Eastern Conference the last 10 years:
02-03: 16,352, 15th - Eastern Conf: 3rd.
03-04: 16,544, 16th - Eastern Conf: 1st.
04-05: 16,944, 15th - Eastern Conf: 6th.
05-06: 16,179, 24th - Eastern Conf: 6th.
06-07: 15,359, 28th - Eastern Conf: 9th.
07-08: 12,221, 30th - Eastern Conf: 9th.
08-09: 14,182, 28th - Eastern Conf: 9th.
09-10: 14,202, 27th - Eastern Conf: 10th.
10-11: 13,538, 30th - Eastern Conf: 8th.
11-12: 14,168, 29th - Eastern Conf: 3rd.
12-13: 14,496, 26th - Eastern Conf: 3rd.
You know who ranked in the Top 2 in attendance every year from 2003 to 2009? The Detroit Pistons, who also happened to be involved in that 2004 brawl. Miraculously, the Pistons were able to maintain their huge crowds throughout much of the 2000s while the team was winning 50 games every year from 2002-2008. Let's check their rank in attendance the last few years:
I'm no sociological expert, but I wonder if Colin Cowherd has an enlightened opinion as to why the Pistons did so well for so long in attendance and now struggle to crack 12,000 fans a night. Why have they dropped from 1st in the league to 28th? Racial issues? Economic issues? Why is it the Pistons have lost 37% of their fans? Could it be they haven't won more than 30 games in a season since 2009? Could it be they've missed the playoffs each of the last three years and are on track to do it again this season? Hopefully Colin Cowherd has the answers.
If race is the biggest factor in people in Indiana not attending Pacers games in droves, why didn't attendance rise for the glory years of Mike Dunleavy, Travis Diener, and Josh McRoberts? Why did it bottom out instead? Why was it that attendance in the seasons before, during, and after Malice in the Palice were relatively unchanged from 2003 to 2006?
You could also spin the numbers to say Pacers attendance has risen 20% since 2008, but that doesn't fit the narrative.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Cowherd's commentary is the fact that he uses a few rogue Facebook and social media comments to drive a larger narrative about basketball fans in Indiana being scared by black NBA players. It's ignorant to pretend that issue doesn't exist. Social media and internet comments are filled with racism, sexism, and all sorts of isms everywhere. But this isn't a blog pulling out a few racist or homophobic tweets to paint the rival city's fans in a negative light. This is a national radio host for one of the largest media companies in the world basically inferring an entire city has significant racial issues with their professional basketball team.
When will ESPN step in and say enough is enough with this shallow social commentary? Because this is precisely the type of commentary that hurts the ESPN brand in a big way. If Cowherd had something productive and useful to say it'd be one thing, but instead he casually infers racism and informs his listeners with inaccuracies. And the biggest problem is that Colin Cowherd keeps going back to this well of social commentary that leads to careless and reckless statements. And all the while ESPN sits back in silence.
It's a pretty audacious step for the same person who once criticzed a black NBA player for a "yo dawg look at me I'm the man dance."
I would go to every game but i'm 2 hours away in college. That's just one excuse though. Made it to the Spurs and Jazz games though! Do what i can!
I gotta say, the headline here is pretty wrong. Cowherd is blaming RACISM for the Pacers low attendance. He's not saying it is the fault of the black players. He's saying it's the fault of the racist fans. Whether or not that's true, you're doing the exact same thing you're accusing him of: misrepresenting a complicated issue and race-baiting while you're at it. Nice.
All I see is a bunch of people butt-hurt over somebody saying out-loud that there is indeed an elephant in the room. Not one person is able to address Cowherd's argument on its merits - because they can't. All they have is emotion and defensiveness. "Why did they like Reggie?" is a question only a privileged white person could ask. If Miller had sleeve tattoos and cornrows, his like-ability would have been nowhere near what it was and is. Reggie Miller is non-threatening to Central Indiana white folks.
If you think Central Indiana white people are so comfortable around blacks, then why do they flee downtown every July during Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration?
People who trust ESPN deserve the cookie cutter garbage that place turns out. As for Colin Cowturd, he really needs to fall in a well hole and stay there.
@BillRohland @chaddukes espn. MT @awfulannouncing: Cowherd, blaming race for the Pacers low attendance this year. http://t.co/eYtemJ83Bj
@awfulannouncing And it's Mission: Accomplished, too. Local Radio & Print have been going off on him the past few days, getting his name out
@awfulannouncing He's back on-air here in Indy after 8 months as of Tuesday. Coincidence he decides to stir the pot, then have Vogel on Wed?
Want to kill Cowherd's argument? Go look at the crowd when the Fever won the WNBA title last year; place was just about sold out. Why? The Fever were playing CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING basketball.
It's a problem because ESPN is the hub people turn to for sports content, and Cowherd is smearing the reputation of a community with baseless stereotypes. ESPN is seen as a trusted authority and people may believe what Cowherd says.
I'm not big on that Pacers team but Colin's comments were unfair to the citizens of Indianapolis. But I do think there should be an honest discussion about that "hockey" team disguised as the Minnesota Timberwolves. Smdh.
you have to admit, after the Malice in the Palace, the Pacers went out of their way to put the palest team in the nba out there...and still no draws...winning brings them in...check the clippers!
He maybe a pompous assclown, but I give Cowturd some props for at least not afraid to state opinions unlike most of his colleagues in Bristol (and Downtown Los Angeles).
@AndrewBucholtz I listen daily. He hammers the midwest because that is where he gets over the top reaction from fans. Obviously baits them.
Ridiculous!! Indianapolis is a great sports town and has a great arena! Give them a winning team and they'll fill that place!!
As someone who has lived in Indianapolis I can assure you that race is irrelevant to 95% of that fan base. If you want to use the tired stereotype that white fans don't like loudmouth black players than why was Reggie so beloved. I also have had the unfortunate experience of hearing Cowherd since he was in Portland and his selection bias is just as bad as his race baiting. He's awful in the same way that really mean catty girls like to claim they're just telling the truth to cover up their own awful opinions.
As ESPN's token "shock jock" he needs to make these outlandish statements regularly. His observation makes absolutely no sense and has no factual basis of course. Does he honestly think fans were filling Market Square Arena for the entire decade of the 90s just to see Rik Smits play? (not knocking Smits of course, he was usually a top 5 center year in and year out)
Is it possible he knew that he's not on ESPN 1070 in Indy (Dan Dakich local show)? Maybe he thought that shot wouldn't be heard so much in Indy?
@AndrewBucholtz Someone needs to come up with an ESPN moron fantasy league. Points for every dumb comment by a bobblehead.
Does anyone seriously listen to this idiot? He probably chased Michelle Beadle out of Bristol with his rampant douchebaggery.