In Sports Commentary

The Bucks are as much a civic institution as the city's museums, Harley-Davidson and Miller Brewing.

Show your civic pride, support the Bucks

Today's lesson, students, is about civic responsibility.

There are any number of things that we have in Milwaukee that are so unique and depend desperately on public support for their survival that deserve our attention.

Take First Stage Children's Theater, for example. It's one of the top children's theaters in the country and constantly working to raise money. Buy tickets or make a donation and it serves your civic responsibility.

Take the Betty Brinn Children's Museum. It's stressed by parking problems because of the closing of O'Donnell Park and it's one of only a few museums just for children in this country, a place that offers magic for kids that is rare and unique. Buy some tickets or make a donation, and it serves your civic responsibility.

Take Summerfest. The world's largest music festival. Some years it's better than others. If people don't go, because of weather or bad bands or whatever, they have less revenue to improve the next year. Going to Summerfest is fun, but it is also a little bit about serving your civic responsibility.

Now, take the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2002 they had a 56-106 record. The next year they jumped all the way to 68-94. Ticket sales slumped. But the Brewers sold civic responsibility and in 2004, despite a worse record, they sold 300,000 tickets more than the year before. Civic responsibility.

It is not any fault of their own that both these institutions are in need of increased support. It's the nature of the ebb and flow of life dependent on public support.

Now, let us consider our civic responsibility and the Milwaukee Bucks.

I know I'm letting myself open for criticism here, but only the faint of heart fear walking through the door to criticism. I know my usual suspects are going to rip me from top to bottom.

Well, bring it on.

We have one National Basketball Association team. Just one. We are one of the select cities in the country that has a major league basketball team.

There has been in the past, and will be in the future, pressure on this team to move to another city with a newer arena and a hungry and growing population. None of those criteria exists in Milwaukee.

This season, marked by such high hopes because of the excitement of last season and the series of off-season acquisitions, has been a dismal failure. It's not that they didn't try. They did live up to their motto of Work Hard, Play Hard. But injuries and other things conspired to make the team a disappointment.

That disappointment has led to fewer ticket sales. Fewer ticket sales mean less revenue.

The owner of the team, Senator Herb Kohl, is no dummy. He didn't get to be a multimillionaire by being stupid. When he makes an investment he wants to get a decent return. That's how rich guys get richer.

The Bucks will never rank up there as one of the best investments Kohl has ever made. He loses money every year. Because he's got so much losing money on the team doesn't drive him to the edge of collapse. But still.

People have tried to buy the team, but Kohl keeps saying no. He wants it to stay in Milwaukee. His civic responsibility.

And I think it's time, nearing the end of the season, that the rest of us in the Milwaukee area show the Bucks some love and buy a ticket to a game. You can get into a Bucks game for as little as 20 bucks. Watch for the sales and promotions.

It may not be your favorite investment. But the games are fun, wherever you sit. There's basketball, lots of fun, a very, very cute and sexy dance team, food that's bad for you but tastes very good, music, and, again, professional basketball.

You can't see that in every city in the United States. So say to yourself: "Self. I'd hate it if the Bucks left and we didn't have a team. It would be another step in a downward slide toward a Little League city. We'd never get another team. What the hell. I'll buy a ticket."

You'll meet your civic responsibility and feel good about it. You'll also have a good time. I promise.

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Talkbacks

Broner | March 9, 2011 at 12:07 p.m. (report)

Saying that attending Bucks games is showing civic pride is typical Begel hyperbole. However, having said that, I'd hate to see them leave. But as other posters have pointed out, there are several things working against them. One is the league and how it's being constructed now. At least in the old days, a team in a city like Milwaukee could compete if they got and held onto star players. However, we're seeing star team up now on their terms which works against them. Another thing working against them is Herb Kohl. While he has hung onto the team which has kept them here, his hiring decisions over the years have lead to bad teams. Larry Harris gave a one trick pony a max deal that they're still paying for as well as many other bad decisions. Until they got Skiles, they had a progression of underqualified coaches which is on Kohl too. So while I think it would be a shame to lose the team, they also have to put a product on the floor that's worth watching and with the exception of a nice run last year, we just haven't seen it.

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swoakes | March 9, 2011 at 8:17 a.m. (report)

Attendance is down league-wide. It has been for the last few seasons. I'm sure declining attendance for the Bucks can be partially attributed to the laughable team they put on the floor each night, but the NBA as a league right now is a complete sham. No one cares about NBA basketball, and that's why no one wants to go to a Bucks game. Why would I pay $20 for nosebleed seats at the BC to watch 5 guys throw bricks at the backboard for 2 hours?

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local_yokel | March 9, 2011 at 4:46 a.m. (report)

I agree about the civic responsibility and I would not want Milwaukee to lose the Bucks, at least not without a good fight. I have not been to a game in years, having paid too much to sit too far away for an overproduced noisefest in which the basketbal seemed incidental. But that was many years ago. The Bucks tickets promotions have improved since then and maybe their game production has also. I listen to the occasional Bucks radio broadcast and think the announcers do an excellent job. I especially like the "Ask the GM" segment and the interview with the head coach. Last I looked, the Bucks also had a good website. One obvious problem, I think, is that they lack a strong media presence, getting lost -- or buried? -- first, by all the Packers coverage and then the Brewers. Where are the equivalent shows that focus on the Bucks and the NBA? I hardly know this team. Mostly my fault, perhaps, but still.

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Hckyboy00 | March 9, 2011 at 1:25 a.m. (report)

Um, sorry, but my civic responsibility has nothing to do with a) giving my money to a for-profit organization to make more money and b) giving my money to a sub-par for profit company thus making it clear that i approve of their terrible play. Summerfest is also included in this argument. If you want to encourage people to support the arts, that's fine, no argument from me, but sports has nothing to do with 'civic responsibility', local pride maybe, but civic responsibility? Again, another article well off the mark. I would really hate to see whatever your editor turns away.

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DennisHughes | March 8, 2011 at 10:32 p.m. (report)

We also need to show our civic pride by extending the Brewers one cent sales tax for the Bucks to build a new arena. Milwaukee has a long history of investing in its infrastructure, and to give up an NBA franchise would be pure lunacy. If the city makes a strong investment it can make decisions that will cause the greatest economic impact on the city. We need a first class indoor multi-use arena to keep up with other cities and to attract new business.

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