April 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
Most of those reading this are familiar with the allegations against Roger McDowell. A quick recap of what they are for the sake of clarity and those that might not be familiar with the situation, taken from the press conference at which the allegations were presented:
- Responding to a trio of heckling fans, Roger McDowell said: “Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?” and “Are you three giving it to each other up the ass?”, with some baseball bat aided sex simulation and hip thrusting involved.
- When a fan in the bleachers found that inappropriate, he shouted, “Hey, there are kids out here”, to which Roger McDowell replied: “Kids don’t fucking belong at the baseball park”.
- McDowell then walked towards the fan who had shouted, “Hey, there are kids out here”, in a threatening manner and, wielding a baseball bat, said: “How much are your teeth worth?”.
For our purposes, we can boil the allegations down to three parts: using hateful, sexual slurs, threatening fans, and claiming that children aren’t welcome at major league baseball games.
One, these are just allegations and we can’t treat them as facts. The Atlanta Braves are investigating the allegations and will report their findings to The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. Roger McDowell did apologize for “responding to heckling fans” so we know that much is true, but the degree to which the allegations are true is far from certain. It’s entirely possible that the details of McDowell’s response were exaggerated or embellished. Given the reputation of the accusing party’s representation, Gloria Allred, it wouldn’t be out of character to learn that this is the case.
Two, if the allegations are entirely true I don’t see any way Roger McDowell remains a member of the Atlanta Braves organization.
Let’s be clear: I am not saying that I advocate removing him from his position. Whether or not you find his alleged actions reason enough for removal from his position is entirely irrelevant. There’s no question that this type of behavior is highly unacceptable and worthy of reprimand, but the punishment he deserves if these allegations are true is debatable. I will refrain from taking a stance on that issue here.
Note: for the sake of not having to type “if these allegations are true” every other sentence for the rest of this article, consider that the allegations are true a premise thereof. Since we don’t know whether or not it’s the case, also consider it hypothetical.
However, as is so often the case, deserves got nothing to do with it. What the Braves are running is a business, and keeping Roger McDowell around is absolutely going to affect their bottom line. Consider for one that he’s offended homosexuals, who according to Wikipedia make up nearly 13 percent of the population of the city in which the Braves play their home games. It’s fair to assume that most of that 13 percent of the city probably won’t be purchasing any more Braves tickets (and, in turn, concessions) before Roger McDowell is severely reprimanded. But I’d take it a step further, not only will the homosexual community not buy tickets, but non-homosexual political activists and those that sympathize with the homosexual community will probably also boycott the Braves games. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if conscious boycott turned into active protest. McDowell essentially opened Pandora’s Box with the gay community, and the only way I see for the organization to save face and, more relevantly, their bottom line is to cut ties.
Just as potentially devastating to the organization’s income, if not more, is the line about children not belonging at major league baseball games. The Braves always strive to make Turner Field a family-friendly place. If you look at their tickets website, you’ll quickly see two examples of that: the Braves Kids Club and the Chevron Family Value Plan. If you look at their 2011 promotional schedule you’ll see that after every Sunday day game kids are allowed to run the bases. McDowell’s message to the fan who said “Hey, there are kids out here” is exactly the opposite of the one the Atlanta Braves organization is trying to sell to the general public. That is, not only do kids belong, they’re wanted and necessary. Having a coach on their staff that has so enthusiastically contracted their sales pitch does not bode well for the effectiveness of said sales pitch.
And finally there is the issue of threatening a fan with physical violence. That affects everyone. It’s embarrassing and not only harms the organization’s reputation but also their ability to sell tickets. You don’t need me to tell you that having a coach engage in such anti-social behavior is bad for public relations, but doing so towards a fan isn’t just bad, it’s a PR nightmare. People say there’s no such thing as bad PR, but if it’s affecting your ability to run a profitable business then it is. Threatening a fan with physical violence is simply not something the Braves can afford to stand for.
The Braves are not selling as many tickets as they’d like to. Through nine home games, including the home opener, the Braves have drawn 237,102 fans, about 26,500 a game. To put it another way, they’re barely averaging a half-full stadium. The last thing they need for people to have another reason to not go to the games. Roger McDowell has given everyone–especially families and homosexuals, two non-insignificant portions of their ticket sales base–a pretty good one. Now the Braves are tasked with proving to the public that this is no reason to stop attending Braves games. I can’t think of a way to accomplish that without firing him. I am not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just the way business works. A debate about the morality of firing him versus a less sever punishment accomplishes nothing, because in the end the bottom line overrules all else.