“Bolstered by a host of unwanted rankings-first among large cities in the United States for murder, violent, and property crime, and drug-related emergency room visits; consistently in the top-ten most dangerous cities in the United States; a poverty level of 24% (34% for children under 18); life expectancies 14 years under national averages; ten pregnancy the highest among the nation’s 50 largest cities; blocks of vacant and abandoned row houses; having some of the highest violent crime and juvenile homicide figures; drug-addiction, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV infection rates in the country; and a per capita income level 57% below Maryland’s average” (Silk, 2010).
So you could see when we were proposed of the idea that we had to go to an area normally run by people that are considered minorities and Baltimore only 15 minutes away you realize how someone could get a bad impression of this project. We decided to go into Baltimore to do this project. In this paper I am going to write how I felt while I was there, how I was treated, and how uncomfortable I felt being there. I am also going to tell of different promotional ideas that I have of getting more white college students to attend events like this. I chose to attend the Coppin State University versus Towson University basketball game for my spaces of sport paper. I decided to use this event because Coppin State has a very high minority percentage. I am a Caucasian male from a middle class background so I have never been exposed to an environment where I was the minority before.
The area of where I am from consists of only white middle to upper class people and I have never had many interactions with minorities before. In my high school we had only 5% minority so all of my friends and people I know from back home consist of only people like me. I thought coming down to Towson University was bad enough for me in reference to interacting with minorities. Towson only has a 7% African-American rate and coming here made me feel somewhat insecure and uncomfortable. I had never been around so many people of different races and sexualities before coming down here and it was a culture shock for me. That was until I took the trip down into Baltimore to Coppin State University.
I went down to the game with Meghan Ashman, John Tamburo, Sheree Ledbetter, and Corbin Mayo. We chose to go down together so that we had a small comfort zone and since Sheree is African-American and had been there before it gave us an extra level of comfort. Sheree knew how to get there and where she was going so it made us feel slightly comfortable but once we got there she left us to go sit with her friends who were African-American as well. I felt like the ride down there was a lot more uncomfortable that being at the game. We drove down in the car and on the way we passed an area of Baltimore that did not seem safe and had boarded up apartments. At the southern tip of Martin Luther King Parkway sits the Washington village/Pigtown neighborhood.
For a number of years, this area stood in stark contrast to that which is physically separated from, namely, the historic Ridgley’s delight community on the edge of ‘Westside’ Pigtown may well be heralded by a sanguine, if not delusional, chamber of commerce as a ‘diverse’ and ‘mixed’ neighborhood; however, the poverty and marginalization of class location are write large on the bodies of a large number of residents whose dress styles and mannerisms echo portrayals of African-American youth, namely in the Baltimore peripheries, at least, over long white t-shirts, ‘bling’ baseball caps, and military paraphernalia. ” (Silk, 2010).
Going through the projects of Baltimore definitely gave me different views of what people of other races go through and made me feel really out of place as people in cars next to us were staring at us like we were in the wrong place. We were only passing by these people and you could still get the sense that they did not want us there and looked down upon us. We saw people on the streets that you don’t normally see around areas in Towson and definitely not around areas where I am from. “The faceless population urinating in the save-a-lot parking lot, the lines at the temporary work warehouses; the brown paper bags that barely conceal 8:00 a. m. ourbon from three corner liquor; the early morning drudge away from the homeless shelters; the knocks at the door from desperate citizens willing to detail the car or do any odd jobs; the queue at the gas station window for last chance lottery tickets (under the sign, “GAS CUSTOMERS WILL BE SERVED FIRST”)” (Silk, 2010).
This quote directly references to what our ride in consisted of since we can in through one of the worst parts of the city and you can see why we felt uncomfortable on our way to the game. I had been to Baltimore before and have had very different experiences than this past one. Going to the inner harbor and surrounding areas where there is a much different atmosphere and the people are different changes everything.
Going to an Orioles game and then going out around there where stores don’t have boarded up windows and there aren’t any discount liquor stores or strip clubs will make you feel more at home than those other areas. This part of the city though was very different and something I have never been exposed to before. I never realized what these areas are like and it did make me feel uncomfortable and very out of place. “Drawing upon the type of reactionary racist fears that characterize the “urban ghetto”, the article painted a picture of Pigtown centered around loud rap music, bars that are full by midmorning, kids who treat school as an option, and the flight of professional services, such as doctors’ surgeries. Local resident, Marian White, was also quoted, stating, “Nobody works anymore. Most of them just get high and wait for their checks.
Everybody I know has left the city. I’d leave the city too, if I had the money”‘ (Silk, 2010). I thought after this ride in and seeing all of this poverty and such the game experience was going to be horrible. This is another great quote that defines what the part of Baltimore was like that surrounds the area of where Coppin State University is located and reasons why it made us feel very uncomfortable while we were going to the game. We did not know how to handle being in an area this poor with not much good around and many of these people that we saw on the streets looked like they were just getting by. Being at the game didn’t feel as uncomfortable as going in did.
For basketball games here at Towson University all you have to do is either go swipe your student id or buy your tickets and go and find your seat but at Coppin State they have cops at the doors that pat you down to make sure you have weapons of no kinds. I felt sort of scared because it then made me realize how bad of an area we were in. I have never been patted down before entering a college basketball game especially one of low importance like this. Towson versus Coppin State is not a big draw where there would be people of major importance they would be keeping safe. This meant that they have had issues with weapons there before and maybe a chance someone at the game had the opportunity to get one in somehow.
This display of security should make you feel secure that they have cops here doing this but it actually made me feel less secure especially since it was around the type of people I do not normally associate myself with on a usual basis. Throughout the game I started to feel more comfortable but you could still feel like other people were staring at us and talking to their friends about why we were at the game. It had a different feel than any other game I had been to before because the other team and fans seemed more ghetto and obnoxious than anything else I have experienced. “Xavier guard Tu Holloway, who acknowledged making comments directed at UC’s team right before the brawl, caused a stir by later describing his team’s toughness as ‘a whole bunch of gangsters. Holloway, suspended for one game, said Sunday he regretted using the term ‘gangsters'” (Katz, 2011).
This is the image I was getting from watching the other team play and the mannerisms they had during the game. They showed a lot of anger and were unprofessional while they were playing and you could tell that they didn’t know how to act in front of people they are not accustomed to. They made me feel like I was watching a team of gangsters play as they were very aggressive and didn’t take well to the white players on our team. They were hollering and screaming at them all game. Seeing these actions made by not only players but by the crowd as well started to make me second guess my decision for coming to this game.
Even though none of these things were directed towards me it still gave me a bad feeling about being there. There are obvious reasons for why white people do not attend these games as I noted before but I think if it was promoted well there is a chance that you could bring in more people. It is hard to market and promote things like this when dealing with minorities because even though you would like more diversity at these events you want to make sure you are not making the current attendees angry. Promotional ideas are a great way to bring in more of an attendance even if they are not directly straightly at whom you want to bring in. “several studies have included promotions as one of many independent variables affecting attendance.
Hill, Madura, and Zuber (1982) found the promotion variable positive and significantly related to attendance. ” (McDonald & Raseker, 2000) Promotions usually lead to bigger crowds and are a great way to to get all kinds of people to come to games. Professional teams use promotions more and more to get more people to come to their games so I think that a college team should definitely use certain ones. ‘There has been a dramatic increase in the use of promotional by professional sport teams” (McDonald & Raseker, 2000) One promotional idea that I have in mind in bringing in more white people to games like these is having a group bus ride hosted by nearby universities.
I have attended many different events where shuttle buses have been provided by Towson University to go down to Baltimore so I don’t see why an idea like this to attend a game that involves the Towson University basketball team would be opposed. I think this would be a critical idea because since the surrounding area of Coppin State is so bad students may be discouraged in going if they do not know how to get there or are too scared to go. If there is a bus consisting of all students of Towson University they would feel a lot more comfortable and could potentially get dropped off right in front of the arena so there would be no way they could get lost and wander into an area that they normally would not go. Many people do not like driving through these areas and a wrong turn could put them in a very dangerous area and being alone doing this would be very frightening for many people.
A shuttle bus would not only be could for Coppin State University but also for Towson University as they would be getting more of their fans to attend games which could then possibly create a bigger attendance to their home games. Another promotional idea would be making the night more fun by having different events at halftime. When we went to the game they had events such as a three point shooting contest and a free throw contest and while that is good for interacting with fans it didn’t really draw much interest from those not participating in the contests. I think that if they had different entertainment that drew interest for families they would have a bigger draw. Families are a great target market for teams to promote towards.
That is the stance many major and minor league teams take when deciding what promotions to have. The philosophy of many minor league promoters is to ‘get the fans involved and have a total entertainment package'” (Berg, 1990) Marketing towards families would be good because then you could promote this towards families of all different races. It doesn’t have to be geared towards just Caucasian families and this type of promotion wouldn’t be as racist or sexist. So I think that some type of show or source of entertainment would be very resourceful and keep fans engaged throughout the whole game. Getting back to bringing in more people like me to these games could be free giveaways. I know they do this at other college games and when there is knowledge that these promotions are taking place it often heightens attendance and if a giveaway was something like an iPod it would definitely draw more interest from the white crowd.
Being in the fan development department here at Towson University for the semester has given me knowledge in promotions and increasing fan attendance and while a good product on the field or court is the best way to bring crowds in often a good giveaway like an iPod also will bring in white college students even to an area like Coppin State University. To conclude my paper I felt like this experience was definitely eye opening for me. This was a lot of exposure for me to a kind of people that I have never interacted with before and spent this much time with. The whole process of getting to the game was the worst and most uncomfortable part as I really felt unwanted and at times unsafe by the residents of the area.
It gave me the perspective of what minorities go through in areas of where I’m from where they are looked at differently. As the night went on I was getting more settled in and I think people started to watch the game so it took less attention off us but at times I saw different people staring at us. There were other white people at the game too but I still felt out of place but was feeling slightly more comfortable as the game went on. I don’t think that I would come down to a game here anytime soon or possibly ever at all but I do think that if the promotional ideas I have proposed before would do a great job of bringing other white college students to the game.