• Loading stock data...
Saturday, June 22, 2024

How the Atlanta Hawks Are Growing a Winning Fanbase Through Love

Atlanta Hawks Love
Photo Credit Lauren Kania Photography

Photo credit: Lauren Kania Photography

The Atlanta Hawks were the latest NBA team to celebrate the many shades of love with its Love Wins event on Valentine’s Day with a focus on the LGBTQ community.

While the team faced some challenges on social media, the Hawks’ Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw said the event was successful and the community has been generally positive with its reception.

Shaw believes sports organizations are primed to be drivers of social change, and events such as Love Wins helps continue the mission.

“We are uniquely positioned as a sports organization to create unifying moments,” she said. “We have a product that attracts different demographics of people to come to our building and celebrate with us. Our role as a sports organization is to be a bridge-builder, finding that connective tissue and bring it all together.”

Love Wins helped show Shaw the acceptance from many Hawks fans, and the organization’s potential paths to go in “new and unexpected places” to help unify the fanbase.

The execution of the game wasn’t difficult, Shaw said, explaining how the general programming is easy to implement in a normal night.

READ MORE: Minor League Baseball Connects Women to Help ‘Lift’ Careers

In terms of scheduling, Shaw said Valentine’s Day just made the most sense for hosting a night all about the many ways love shows its colors.

“Overall, Valentine’s Day represents love,” she said. “Love shows up in all sorts of forms, and Valentine’s Day commemorates people giving positive vibes and energy to one another in however it appears.”

The night started with the national anthem sung by the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, and featured halftime performances by Robin S and Crystal Waters, as well as Atlanta drag entertainers.

Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter attended the Love Wins event to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary.

[mc4wp_form id=”8260″]

“Hawks Games at State Farm Arena embody an inclusive environment that welcomes everyone in the name of love,” Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said.

Shaw began her role with the Hawks in 2014 and has since led a variety of endeavors to promote inclusion.

In October, the Hawks partnered with the apparel brand Boy Meets Girl for a PRIDE line, with several clothing pieces, including rainbow-numbered jerseys.

Shaw has also hosted the MOSAIC (Model of Shaping Atlanta through Inclusive Conversations) Diversity & Inclusion Symposium over the past four years. Also, each of the past four years, the team has participated in the Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade. This year, the NBA awarded the franchise the Inclusion Leadership Award among all of its 30-member teams.

READ MORE: How Inclusion, Jen Welter and Quavo Propelled Adidas’ Super Bowl Activations

Shaw is excited other NBA teams are also pushing inclusiveness, with five other teams employing people in similar roles as her. Other teams hosted Love Win-type events prior to the Hawks as well, including the Brooklyn Nets.

She’s also noticed the broader efforts of teams and leagues across the country making similar pushes.

For the slight pushback the team sees for its efforts of inclusion, Shaw said she doesn’t let the negativity win or let it cloud the vision for the future. If she witnesses coworkers upset by the negativity, she reminds them of the struggles of integration.

“Fifty years ago, people were outwardly upset about the idea of black and white children going to school and playing together,” she said. “Sometimes implementing change feels hard for the broad community to accept, but over time through education and communication, things dissipate.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Finals Draw Underwhelming Viewership, but NBA Juggernaut Rolls On

The impact will be negligible on the NBA’s $76 billion media-rights talks.

Clark vs. Reese: Priciest WNBA Game Set for Record-Breaking Viewership

Ticket pricing has already set a league record, while viewership expectations are lofty.

NCAA Backs Dartmouth Against Unionizing Men’s Basketball Players

The NCAA’s quest to save its business model continues.

Aces Sell Out Regular-Season Home Games in WNBA First

The Aces’ slow start continues to have no impact on the box office. 
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How Women’s Sports Media is Charting Its Own Path


Featured Today

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.
June 9, 2024

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.

Top Sports Business Jobs This Week (May 2024)

Each week, our staff combs through the thousands of job listings from…
August 10, 2022

PGA Tour Touts Projected Earnings to Keep Players

The PGA Tour is asking its players to consider their potential futures.
October 3, 2022

Real Madrid President Renews Call for Super League

Real Madrid’s president believes that soccer is losing ground.

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
August 10, 2022

Bayern Munich to Make Growth Push in U.S. Market

Bayern Munich is looking to expand its reach in the U.S.
August 3, 2022

Nintendo Profits Underwhelm, Switch Sales Decline

Nintendo failed to meet expectations in the company’s latest earnings report.
August 19, 2021

MLB Owners Propose $100M Salary Floor

Major League Baseball owners have proposed a $100 million payroll minimum for MLB’s 30 teams and a lower luxury tax threshold.
July 23, 2021

NFL to Players: Get Vaccinated or Pay the Price

The NFL’s threatening to drop the financial hammer on un-vaccinated players and teams that cause forfeited games in 2021, according to memo.