News came a few weeks ago: during the Arlington-based men’s basketball Final Four, the NCAA would host a Dallas-based music festival. It would be free, and the first wave of show announcements was big: Bruce Springsteen, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, The Killers, and Fun. The second lineup announcement wasn’t as big (Eli Young Band, Pat Green, the Wild Feathers), but still it was free and in downtown Dallas and WOW look a free concert in downtown Dallas.
Problem is, the lineup isn’t reflective of the basketball product at all. (Honestly, at. all. Look at that picture.) In 2012, 57.2 percent of NCAA men’s basketball players were black; 29.4 percent were white, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, at the University of Central Florida. (I broke down every team in the Sweet Sixteen this year, too, and the discrepancy is even greater there.)
The location of the concert—Reunion Park—is close to some of the largest swaths of minority-majority neighborhoods in the city, and literally next to the DART lines that will bring in concertgoers. (Which, of course, will be mostly young. The average NCAA Final Four-watcher may be 50, but the average “I’m going to get my ass off my couch and get to a free concert” age is much lower.)
Last year’s Final Four in Atlanta featured Sting, Dave Matthews Band, Muse, Flo Rida, Macklemore, and Ludacris, which is practically a Benetton ad compared to this year’s lineup. Also, if you have a festival in Atlanta and don’t invite Ludacris, I think that’s grounds for stoning.
So, what happened, NCAA? Why is this year’s festival so white-washed? (Never mind 100 percent male.) Since money seemingly isn’t an issue—few of these acts would ever be considered “cheap”—a more representative list of acts, that would actually reflect the games this festival is supporting might include:
- Bruno Mars (wouldn’t do it because of the Super Bowl, but a no-brainer)
- Pharrell (the no-brainer of all no-brainers this year)
- John Legend
Festival organizers have predicted turn-away levels of attendees, and I don’t think that’s untrue. I think tens of thousands will make their way to that bizarre plot of downtown land, and everyone will have a great time. But I think if the organizers tried a little harder it could’ve been a WORLD-CLASS day for Dallas.
(That said, see you at Springsteen.)