Joe Franke, a senior at Shorewood High School, reached out via email last week and asked to us to publish a "letter to the editor" of sorts. OnMilwaukee.com is a place for community discussion, so below is Franke’s take on current arena discussions and the future of the Milwaukee Bucks:
Awaiting game three of the 2015 NBA Playoffs, I sat in my seat at the BMO Harris Bradley Center wondering where my profound love for the Milwaukee Bucks came from. I started following the Bucks towards the end of the Michael Redd era, but at first I did not understand why I was such a fan.
Years of bad trades, poor draft picks and missed opportunities really challenged my passion for the Bucks. However I have never given up on them. Despite a busy high school senior year, I attended 36 home games this season, and as I happily watched Milwaukee fans fill the arena last week, I thought about all the time and energy I have invested in supporting the Bucks. Not to mention my parents’ money and my own money.
I began to realize that my passion comes not only from a love of basketball, or for the Bucks’ franchise itself. My passion for the Bucks is rooted in my intense love for the City of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee needs the Bucks. The fact that a new arena was looking grim for a while was quite worrisome. What the Bucks have to offer to this city, and this state, is much more than basketball. First of all, in a nation where the big market cities get all the media attention, cities like Milwaukee need to keep their blue collar mentality in order to survive.
After winning five games in a row earlier this season, Jared Dudley said it best, "We just grinded it out," Dudley said. "That’s our new nickname, the Milwaukee Grinders. We are patenting it right now. Not ‘Fear the Deer,’ but 'Fear the Grind.’"
Fear the Grind is right. When the future is finally here for this Milwaukee Bucks team, they will be consistently challenged by cities such as Chicago, Boston and or Los Angeles. With a winning product on the court up against markets like those, not only will Milwaukee gain national recognition as the hardworking city it is, but also the product on the court will remind us to keep that blue collar mentality.
More importantly, for the past decade Milwaukee has been consistently ranked as one of the most segregated cities in America. Our national racial tension has been highlighted by the recent events in Ferguson and Baltimore, and similar events have occurred in Milwaukee in the recent past. It is no surprise that both St. Louis and Baltimore ranked in the top 25 most segregated cities according to Business Insider.
Like St. Louis and Baltimore, Milwaukee faces some serious problems ahead. Of all the Wisconsin sports, the Bucks attract by far the most integrated fan base. Because of this, the whole city has a chance to be represented at Bucks games, allowing us to break down the physical barriers which otherwise divide us. While the Milwaukee Bucks cannot solve the problem of physical segregation in Milwaukee, the Downtown arena provides a place where all can congregate, sharing a common bond, cheering the Deer.
Win or lose, the city will come together, breaking down barriers of race as sports have done for our nation many times. By maintaining a professional sports team located in the Downtown area, this sense of community can and will always be there.
However, if the Bucks were to relocate to another city, not only would the Milwaukee economy suffer drastically but the people of this city would lose this opportunity to come together.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.