Boys get insider look at business side of basketball

May 22nd, 2015
Dave Bing stands with students who are part of the mentoring program through the former mayor's Bing Youth Institute. (Photo: Matt Helms/Detroit Free Press)

Kim Knolton, our Community Schools site coordinator at Cody Academy of Public Leadership, has been coordinating the Bing Youth Institute program at the school. 25 Cody students participate in the program, and most of them went to this special event at the Palace of Auburn Hills on May 22. “After the event was over and we got back on the bus, the students were so excited that they could barely sit down,” Kim said. “They were amazed to see their names in lights at the Palace and to receive Pistons jerseys with their names emblazoned on the back. This is an experience they will never forget, and we are very thankful to Mr. Bing and all the mentors in the program, which is truly making a difference in the lives of these young men.”

Detroit Free Press reporter Matt Helms wrote a story about the event:

Boys get insider look at business side of basketball

Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press, May 21, 2015

More than 50 young men from Detroit schools got a behind-the-scenes look at the business side of sports at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Thursday, from walking the floor of the basketball court where the Detroit Pistons play to touring the business offices of the company that runs the arena.

The boys are part of former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s Bing Youth Institute, a program Bing launched last year to provide intensive mentoring, educational experiences and job skills training. It’s targeted toward young black males from backgrounds of poverty and troubled homes.

They mentees met workers who sell the tickets to events, season tickets and suites, and the people who shoot video and create the ads and social media that promote the team. They also got to take a seat in the players’ locker room that they’ve seen before on TV, and the private lounge where the team can relax before or after a game.

The point: to offer the boys a glimpse inside the Palace that most people never see, and to encourage them to think about careers on the business side of sports.

“We want to show the kids the business of basketball, not so much the game,” Bing, himself a Pistons Hall of Fame player, said as the kids lined up for an after-tour dinner at the Palace Grille. “You’ve got to be very good, very lucky, in order to play at the professional level. But if they want to be involved in the game, there are so many other avenues and venues, provided they get get the right kind of education.”

Christopher Taylor, 15, a freshman at the Detroit Public Schools’ Cody Academy of Public Leadership, said he had no idea how many people work for the Pistons organization in so many different roles, and he was interested to see that videographers can have a career there.

He said he loves to watch music and other types of videos to see the special effects and editing. Making videos is something he said he’d like to pursue, and his goal is to attend Michigan State University.

“I want to be the person to create it,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe there will be big stars who have me do their videos.”

The boys also were given Pistons jerseys with their last names on them, and their names were lit up on the video screens that encircle the arena.

Bing announced that Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment owner Tom Gores and his wife, Holly, along with the Detroit Pistons Come Together Foundation, donated $75,000 to support the former mayor’s BINGO mentoring program. “BINGO” stands for “Boys Inspired through Nurturing and Growth Opportunities,” but it also was Bing’s nickname when he played for the Pistons.

Bing, who launched a business career after retiring from pro basketball, said the program now has 56 young men from five public schools matched up with adult mentors, and he hopes to raise the number to as high as 100 by year’s end, expanding it to include Latino boys, as well.

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