Archive for the ‘Washington’ Tag

Death of an Owner

When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball,  I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/arnold-a-heft-owner-of-horses-nba-team-dies-at-94/2014/03/26/fc810a4a-b501-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.

Sports Fans

I wrote The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball partly because I was amazed at the issue of fans and their support of the DC teams over the years.

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Even when the Bullets were good, the numbers of fans were not as great as you’d expect. And when the Wizards were bad, man, fans had it tough.

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I’m working on two papers that I’ll be giving at the Popular Culture Association in Chicago and the North American Society for Sports History in Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this year.

Crunched some figures about numbers of fans who are linked to certain sports teams on Facebook. I looked at cities in the US that have teams in the four major US professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). These cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. I divided the number of fans on Facebook into the population of the metropolitan areas from the 2010 Census to determine the percentage of the population showing fan interest for each team.

The results show that Washington has the lowest percentage of its population involved with its teams and Phoenix has the second lowest. Boston has the highest. The data appears below organized by sport.

By Sport: (ranked by percentage of population)

Baseball

Red Sox  4,185,683 (92%)
688,605

Yankees  6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
1,034,752

SF Giants  1,866,243 (43%)
544,563

Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
296,564

Detroit Tigers  1,404,184  (33%)
364,344

Texas Rangers  1,648,160 (26%)
345,642

White Sox  1,117,960 (23%)
166,165

Phillies  1,368,839 (23%)
792,530

Rockies  579,638 (23%)
110,404

Diamondbacks  371,803 (9%)
109,457

Mets  711,431 (7%)
222,596

Marlins  349,337 (6%)
102,530

Nationals  270,473 (5%)
154,611

Football (ranked by percentage of population)

Patriots  4,346,695 (95%)
777,350

Cowboys   5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
762,964

Broncos  2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
420,029

49ers  2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
562,706

Eagles  2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
414,192

Bears  3,062,435 (32%)
414,020

Giants  2,883,522 (29%)
538,485

Dolphins  1,496,534 (27%)
282,758

Lions  1,089,921  (25%)
304,469

Redskins  1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
271,865

Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
81,230

Jets  1,568,587  (16%)
618,924

Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)

Heat  9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
2,111,279

Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
1,333,231

Nuggets  1,252,113 (49%)
255,361

Mavericks  2,756,809 (43%)
378,697

Knicks  4,148,183 (42%)

Suns  1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
237,829

Warriors  929,247 (21%)
325,560

Pistons  714,206  (17%)
223,643

Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
366,964

Sixers  539,415 (9%)
264,650

Wizards  286,115 (5%)
195,223

Hockey:

Red Wings  1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
374,117

Bruins   1,516,883 (33%)
482,948

Avalanche  460,522 (18%)
148,098

Black Hawks  1,568,115 (17%)
480,212

Flyers  914,211 (15%)
300,810

Sharks  608,476 (14%)
185,226

Rangers  1,081,743 (11%)
279,517

Capitals  536,195 (10%)
198,594

Coyotes  148,657 (4%)
98,771

Stars  216,058 (3%)
137,717

Panthers  102,193 (2%)
93,960

Islanders  142,380 (1%)
101,573

 

 

 

 

Humane Society Adoption

At yesterday’s $12 adoption for 12 hours event I spent three hours portraying the mascot, Wags the Dog. My main job centered on standing out on New York Avenue, NE, in front of the animal shelter, waving to the cars. The truck drivers got a big kick out of it and always tooted their horns, like the did when we would ride past them in school buses.

Brett_asWags_n

 

I got to hug adorable dogs too. Some of the dogs did bark at me, as they weren’t sure if I was really one of their species or not!

Lost DC Book Motivates Exploration of the City

A fun, quick read about all that has changed in my adopted city. It made me want to get on my bicycle and scout out the remnants of all these old buildings and facades.

This book is obviously the product of a good deal of research and investigation in a variety of source material. It is a great source for factual information and would have been even more valuable if the author had decided to add more analysis and comparisons with what happened in other cities in the US.

Bullets, Wizards, Or?

The Washington Wizards blogger for ESPN had fun this morning. What should the team nickname be? After spending three years writing about DC basketball, I’m still partial to the Bullets from the Baltimore days.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Bullets-Wizards-Washington-Basketball/dp/0810885549

Wizards Exec Says “Probably Not” on Bullets Name Change, But Not in CAPS; Here are some alternatives

 | June 18, 2013 | 5:33 pm

More anti-name-change news was made yesterday. Really, has a city ever been held under such an enduring siege of controversy surrounding the names of two of its professional sports team as Washington, D.C. has? Doubt it.

You have the “Redskins,” which can be a terribly racist term, and you have the “Wizards,” which can just be terrible—specifically, for a pro basketball team in the nation’s capital.

This latest tid-bit of info naturally pertains to the “Wizards,” previously known as the “Bullets” from 1963 to 1997.

On Monday, Joe Dupriest, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, told John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal that the franchise would “probably not” be renamed the Bullets, also alluding to the locker room gun incident between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton as being a factor.

“I don’t see us changing the name to the Bullets. But I see us using the Bullets with the Wizards mark and using that history a lot more,” Dupriest also told Ourand.

The DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg called the statement, “the strongest thing I can remember a team executive saying on this topic.”

Unlike Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who told USA Today in mid-May, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps,” Dupriest evidently did not specify a preference for CAPS in his statement. Perhaps related but not so much, the current description on Dupriest’s Twitter account (@joedupe) reads: “Caps, Wizards, Duke, Braves with plenty of Ronald Reagan ideology mixed in.”

So there’s that.

Steinberg also rehashed Ted Leonsis’ punting of this very issue in his Bog post. The team owner has several times claimed how “major” a name-change process would be, indicating that it would take “years” to accomplish. Meanwhile, over this offseason, the New Orleans Hornets have changed their name to the Pelicans, and the Charlotte Bobcats will soon return to being call the Hornets. Sure, there is a process [note: "process" is Ernie Grunfeld's favorite word], but if someone wanted to make it happen, it would’ve happened by now. For Leonsis, the action has only been in the bottomless pixel-talk.

So, this latest news is not really news. The language may be the strongest to date, and perhaps it came out of nowhere, but it is hardly a surprise. Even with the blessing of Irene Pollin, it’s long been suspected, by this blogger at least, that a return to the “Bullets” would be out of the question. My advice to people has been to move on. That said, the name “Wizards” should not be accepted. And choosing not to more strongly consider a name change puts Ted Leonsis in the realm of “obtuse” with the warden from The Shawshank Redemption. Then again, the ole pixel warden himself could have a trick up his sleeve.

Anyhow… in light of knowing that I will not be punished for blasting “Ave Maria” over a loudspeaker, I shall blog with freedom about the non-Wizards team name options that may or may not exist.

>The Washington Lincolns.

The city is named after the first U.S. President, George, but the argument can be made that Abe Lincoln is the most iconic. Not many teams are named after a person (the Cleveland Browns, the Charlotte Bobcats, technically (for now)), but Lincoln would be a worthy exception to make.

I mean, if Lincoln is worthy of being the subject of DeShawn Stevenson’s frontal neck tattoo, then what other reason do you need? Now, the marketing wizards at Monumental might have to get creative with team branding, but calling them the “Lincs” for short and having a fake beard promotional give-away night seems easy. Also, beards are popular these days.

Worth noting: there are calls for the U.S. Mint to kill the penny, which features an image of Lincoln—pennies cost more to make than what they are worth. Abe would still have the $5 bill in his corner, but should the penny die, naming a pro basketball team after Lincoln would be nice. Plus, the owner before Leonsis was named Abe.

>The Washington Stallions.

Horses have helped this country a lot, you know, with the towing of carts and stuff before there were cars. So after the eagle, perhaps the horse is the most American of species. And it would be tough to change the name to “Eagles” with that Philly football team up the road. That said, amongst the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, and CFL, there is only one team called the Eagles. Also, “Stallions” was one of the originally narrowed-down team name options in 1997.

>The Washington Federals.

D.C. is the seat of federal government in this country. That said, the District is also a land without the rights of a state—us residents pay federal taxes without any true representation in the legislative branch of government.

So I’m not sure if calling the pro basketball team the “Federals” would be ironically good or ironically bad other to say that watching the Wizards has been very taxing for fans over the years and they have noting to show for it. Thankfully, at least blogs provide the power to talk, which pretty much jibes with the power of Eleanor Holmes Norton.

>The Washington Freedom.

Maybe it could work. I mean, we all like freedom (even if it ain’t exactly “free” … amirite?).

Otherwise, I probably only mention it because my imagination takes me to a spirit squad dressed up like french (or, shall we say freedom) fries throwing out free trinkets, like T-shirts and burritos, while George Michael’s “Freedom” blasts through the arena and Ted Leonsis sings, “I won’t let you down, so please don’t give me up!”

I don’t know where all of this is going other than the fact that if I had to pick a “sleeper” of this whole charade, it would be Freedom.

Worth noting: Freedom was the nickname of a now-defunct women’s pro soccer team in the Washington area. After 10 years in operation, the owner of “magicJack” purchased the team, changed its name to “magicJack,” and moved the franchise to Boca Raton, Florida.

>The Washington Diamonds.

Has a team ever been named after a shape? (Do the Dallas Stars count? Even if they used to be called the North Stars?)

Now is probably not the time to start. Plus, without Virginia, the District is simply not a diamond. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…

>The Washington Hoops.

If you can have the Brooklyn Nets, why not the Hoops? Plus, if would be a good reason to bring back the old team mascot (from during the Bullets days), also named “Hoops.”

No, “Hoops” does not bring much of an association with the nation’s capital, but it’s at least 35.7 to 68.4 percent better than “Wizards.”

“HOOPS!” … in pin form.

>The Washington Dragons.

Like the Stallions, “Dragons” was part of the original name set along with Sea Dogs, Express, and … Wizards.

Unlike Wizards, dragons are real. Perhaps not the fire-breathing types, or even a magical dragon named “Puff,” but there are creatures that walk about this earth known as dragons. So that’s a start. [Full disclaimer: nope, dragons don't really exist, it's just that the name of certain lizards/reptiles includes the word "dragon" in them.]

Otherwise, such a nickname would be an ode to Chinatown, legendary creatives in Chinese folklore and mythology, but would perhaps also lend itself to unfortunate terminology … “I went to watch the Drags last night and boy did things get hairy.” … “Totally, I could’ve put out their lame fire-breathing with my Wiz.” … “Sounds ‘great,’ so when’s the next Drag Show?”

>The Washington Justice.

“Justice” seems popular, and marketable. And it’s perhaps the most reasonable option that’s been tossed about. In June 2010, I wrote a post about the nickname ordeal. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise was one of the many participants who opined. Wise:

The Washington Justice. Now that’s a name. You just got served.

Something tells me it’s going to be Monuments in three years—hence the company name change.

With Justice, there would more spins and local ties than a marketer would know what to do with… Plays on “Justice League” … “Just Us” … the list goes on like drawn-out litigation over several years that gets tied up in the judicial system.

>The Washington Monuments.

With Leonsis’ ownership group going from “Lincoln Holdings” to “Monumental Sports & Entertainment,” upon his assuming majority ownership of the franchise, calling the basketball team the “Monuments” seems so simply easy that it’s an improbability. You’d think that Leonsis would’ve pulled the trigger by now instead of simply diluting the presence of the word “wizards” with jersey changes and the what-not.

With Leonsis recently creating the Monumental Sports Network and likely aspiring toward one day owning the broadcast rights for all of his teams to show on said network, calling one of those teams the “Monuments” seems less and less likely.

Come to think of it… Maybe the big hang-up is actually on what to call the Mystics.

Or maybe this is just an unsolvable riddle with an answer that pleases no one. So the safe bet is to just twiddle thumbs while pixel saturation, like this very post, makes us increasingly numb toward caring until the day that we become so attached to the name “wizards” that we can never imagine life otherwise lest we carry pitchforks in revolution.

To be continued… 

Vote?

If not the Bullets, then what?
LincolnsStallionsFederalsFreedomDiamondsHoopsDragonsJusticeJust keep ‘em the freaking Wizards

Wizards and Washington NBA Fans

Great piece from ESPN blogger about DC basketball. What is the story with fans and pro sports teams in DC? Why have the Redskins kept so many fans after making the playoffs three times in twenty years?
What’s with the Wiz and earning loyalty of local fans?

 

http://www.truthaboutit.net/2013/06/quick-aint-fair-and-john-wall-and-washington-pro-ball-arent-there.html

Compassion for Others?

With all the talk in Washington and in Wall Street about the need to cut Medicare, Medicare and Social Security, one has to wonder where is the concern fora nyone other than theirselves? The economic gains made during the last few years have gone disproportionately to these same people who want to cut the government’s benefits to others. The wealthiest 1% of Americans gained 125% of the growth. Which means the rest of the 99% got only 75% of that growth.

This is bad policy in an American economy that gets 70% of its growth from consumer spending. How do you spend when you’re unemployed, underemployed, or getting less even if you have a significant job! But ultimately, the key question to ask the one percent is: Where is the concern for others in general?

As many people know, the old days, (the 1950s through 1970s) when the company provided a pension for an employee are long gone. That was a big portion of the retirement nest egg and it was taken away from employees by companies that wanted to maximize profits so that their stock prices would go up. The stockholders would get wealthier on the back of the companies retired employees.

Columnist Harold Meyerson illuminates this point in the editorial below:

To the let’s-cut-entitlements crowd, what’s wrong with America is that seniors are living too high off the hog. With the cost of medical care still rising (though not as fast as it used to), the government is shelling out many more dollars per geezer (DPG) than it is per youngster (DPY). The solution, we’re told, is to bring down DPG so we can boost DPY.

We do indeed need to boost DPY. And we need to rein in medical costs by shifting away from the fee-for-service model of billing and paying. But as for changing the way we calculate cost-of-living adjustments for seniors to keep us from overpaying them — an idea beloved of Bowles, Simpson, Republicans and, apparently, the White House — this may not be such a hot idea, for one simple reason: An increasing number of seniors can’t afford to retire.

Nearly one in five Americans age 65 and over — 18.5 percent — were working in 2012, and that percentage has been rising steadily for nearly 30 years. In 1985, only 10.8 percent of Americans 65 and older were still on the job, and in 1995, that figure was 12.1 percent.

Both good news and bad news have contributed to this increase. The good news is that more seniors both can and want to work than in years past, as health care and medical science have extended their capabilities, and as the share of Americans in desk jobs has increased while the number on the factory floor has shrunk. A 2011 survey by the Society of Actuaries reported that 55 percent of working seniors said they had stayed employed because they wanted to stay active and involved. But the same survey showed that 51 percent were working because they needed the money.

What advocates for reducing Social Security adjustments fail to consider is that corporate America’s shift away from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution 401(k) plans — or to no retirement plans at all — has diminished seniors’ non-Social Security income and made the very idea of retirement a far more risky prospect. Today, more than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plan. Of those who do, just 35 percent still have defined-benefit pensions. In 1975, 88 percent of workers with workplace retirement plans had defined-benefit pensions.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k)s is one of the main reasons most seniors aren’t able to set aside enough income to guarantee a secure retirement. A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k)s by households approaching retirement was $100,000 — not nearly enough to support those households through retirement years, as seniors’ life expectancy increases. And as most Americans’ wages continue to stagnate or decline, their ability to direct more of their income to 401(k)s diminishes even more.

With the eclipse of the defined-benefit pension, Social Security assumes an even greater role in the well-being of American seniors. But advocates of entitlement cuts don’t even discuss the waning of other forms of retirement security: Listening to Alan Simpson, you’d never know that America’s elderly aren’t getting the monthly pension checks their parents got.

And it’s not as if those employers are suffering. Just as U.S. businesses have been able to raise the share of corporate profits to a half-century high by reducing the share of their workers’ wages to a half-century low, so, too, their ability to reduce pension payments has contributed not just to their profits but also to the $1.7 trillion in cash on which they are currently sitting.

So here’s a modest plan to enable seniors to retire when they wish, rather than having to work into their 70s and even beyond: Require employers to put a small percentage of their revenue, and a small percentage of their workers’ wages, into a private, portable, defined-benefit pension plan. To offset the increased costs, transfer the costs of paying for workers’ health care from employers and employees to the government, and pay for the increased costs to the government with the kind of value-added tax that most European nations levy. (The tax burden is higher in Europe, but because the level of benefits is higher as well, the tax has wide public support.)

The odds of such a plan being enacted today, of course, are nil. (Then again, the odds of any bill getting through Congress these days are close to nil.) But until we compensate for, or reverse, the abdication of corporate America from any major role in providing its workers with retirement security, we should lay off monkeying with Social Security to reduce the program’s future payments. As for all those cash-drenched chief executives who proclaim that we must cut entitlements, how about they make up the difference by restoring the pensions their companies slashed?

NBA’s David Stern in DC

National Basketball Association’s Commissioner David Stern gave a discussion about the last 30 years of professional basketball on Thursday night at the Native American Museum in Washington, DC. Over 100 people showed up at the Smithsonian Associates event to hear him.

Panelists included the Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise, the Post’s Wizards’ beat writer Mike Lee and local and NBA lawyer Phil Hochberg. In addition, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, played a basketball superfan. The panelists asked Stern good questions. The Commissioner appeared very relaxed and in great spirits. He seemed to care a great deal about the game and its individual players. Most interesting, he supported the players in their efforts to announce their political perspectives and take part as citizens in the country.

In the final half hour, a number of fans got up to ask questions. Overwhelmingly, most of the questions were very good. They ranged from asking Stern questions about how size of market influences a team’s chance to win to asking him what rule change he thought made the greatest difference.

My co-author and I got the chance to hand out fliers for our book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball.

Washington DC Historical Studies

Another fine year for the DC Historical Studies Conference! The conference included a wide-range of topics and presenters, including students from local high schools, Howard and George Washington Universities, and independent and academic scholars.

This conference is interested in bringing many disciplines together. Historians, archeologists, linguists, sociologists all gave fantastic papers on topics ranging from the city’s school system, and African-American cemeteries, to gay community formation, and a how-to presentation on doing oral history.

The history of the school system and its governance shows how divided the group has been on how to best serve the children of white and black families. The papers hint at some of the reasons behind the current difficulties. A session on discovering the Black community of Georgetown showed how the history can engage youngsters and help them build the skills of researching and analytical thinking. The Mount Zion Cemetery is listed as one of the most endangered in the country.

The DC Public Library discussed a grant they are receiving to build a web application that will enable people to read passages from works of fiction that describe the area where they are currently standing.

The History Network filled the Great Hall of Martin Luther King Jr. DC Public Library. Non-profit organizations, including the Arlington Historical Society and Cultural Tourism DC, offered brochures and suggestions about experiencing the variety of historical sites and activities in the area.

Tasty Big Meal

The Studio Theatre produced another strong play. Part of its Second Stage productions, the DC theater company unveiled The Big Meal by Dan LaFranc.

The play shows five generations of a single family in the Midwest U.S. of today. Showing characters in pairs, quartets and occasionally in larger groupings, the play provides strong and interesting characters. The actors are very strong playing a multitde of roles.

The play addresses the ups and downs of rather middling lives, highs of weddings and romance and lows of jealousy, sibling rivalry, and racism. None of this hits one over the head but instead flows naturally out of the characters. Younger versions adopt good and bad habits of their parents as they age, all the types of things that we each discover about our selves.

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