On the their season and home opener last Wednesday night, R&B singer and Philadelphia native Sevyn Streeter was told by the Philadelphia 76ers that she couldn’t sing the National Anthem.
Streeter was wearing a shirt that said “We Matter” amidst all of the controversy surrounding the protests in society and in the sports world pertaining to the decision to sit and stand during the National Anthem. The 76ers organization deemed the shirt to be inappropriate and gave Streeter the options to wear a jacket over the shirt, wear a shirt provided by the team, or to not sing at all. Streeter decided to not wear anything else and as a result she was denied the opportunity to sing.
Since the incident, the 76ers have retracted their denial and have invited the singer back to sing the anthem when she would like to. Although this is the right gesture by the 76ers, it doesn’t account for the real problem here that organizations and owners are still more focused on dollars than the issues at hand.
People have their respective opinions about protesting and how it should be done. In this case, it was another example of a peaceful protest by Streeter through words on a shirt. The issue with this from an organization’s perspective is that the fans at the arena and on TV will see the shirt and possibly be turned off from watching the game because they may not agree with the stance taken by the figure.
From a business perspective, this is a logical decision. The most important entity besides the players and outcome of the game, is the fans and whether they fill the seats or not.
Everything that has been going on as far as protests and societal mishaps is bigger than business.
What needs to be understood is that minorities make up 51.7 percent of Philadelphia’s population. Therefore, a good percentage of those people who not only attend, but also watch 76ers games, will be people who are directly affected by the problems that these protests are about. So even if we did hypothetically look at this from a business lens once again, but this time specifically from perspective of a business in Philadelphia, it would be detrimental for Streeter to be removed from the Anthem because she represents a huge percentage of your consumers.
So, by making that decision to remove her from the opportunity, you run the risk of alienating many people who are tuning in or coming to the games and that would be a worst case scenario from a business and moral standpoint.
The big picture is that there still is a divide in urgency between sports owners and social issues that needs to continually be mended. What I do respect is that the 76ers acknowledged their mistake and poor judgement and offered her the same opportunity when her schedule permits. Although nothing will erase the original decision and the moment and impact it could have created if they allowed her to sing, it shows that there is some progress being made here. Unlike NFL owners who are very stubborn in their perspective, the owners of the 76ers showed that they at least have some moral understanding which is a big step.
Hopefully the owners of other sports teams can learn from this situation and understand that there’s more elements than business when it comes to dealing with societal issues that directly affects players and fans.
Do you agree with the decision to remove Streeter from singing the National Anthem? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.