The White Sox need to cut ties with Papa John’s

The reaction to John Schnatter’s use of the N-Word has been swift. In Louisville, where Papa John’s corporate headquarters reside, the University has taken his name off the business center and will rename the football stadium. Major League Baseball has suspended their “Papa Slam” promotion where customers can receive 40% off if a grand slam is hit. Derek Jeter didn’t hesitate, and the Miami Marlins cut ties with Papa John’s.

Then the wave of individual teams suspended their relationship with the company:

  • New York Yankees
  • Washington Nationals
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Texas Rangers
  • Atlanta Braves

The only team that hasn’t in Major League Baseball is the Chicago White Sox. A team spokesperson released a statement yesterday to NBC Chicago.

“We will continue to monitor the situation over the All-Star break, consistent with MLB’s approach, and then take any appropriate steps, if any, before our team returns home for our first homestand of the second half.”

The key phrase in the team’s statement is “If any.” For an organization that beams with pride for their Amateur City Elite program, and the long-established charitable work headed by Christine O’Reilly helping inner-city African American children, this is a bizarre decision by the White Sox. While the league itself and all other teams are not participating in any marketing campaigns with Papa John’s, the White Sox have decided to put themselves on an island in continuing to promote the brand.

Why?

Does Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox need money that badly?

I do admit in years past when money was tight, I took advantage of the promotion when there was a Papa John’s just down the street from me. At the time it wasn’t about quality when consuming food. More focused on how many calories I could stuff on the fewest amount of dollars spent. The garlic butter sauce helped wash down any poor attempt they call a pizza crust at Papa John’s, but no more.

There will be some that defend Papa John’s saying that it was just one man that made these comments, and not the entire company. Sure, I might buy that argument if the company didn’t have his name in it or that his face is plastered on every marketing piece. New leadership at Papa John’s have made the decision to take down his likeness, but it might help to change the name, too. In this case, yes, its OK to punish a whole company when one person made a derogatory comment. Especially when this comment was made in May, and we are now hearing about it in July. The board knew, and repercussions are only taking place because of the public outcry. They were willing to let it slide until they realize that their sales were going to go down if no action took place. Some corporate moral backbone, Papa John’s.

Which brings back the White Sox team statement. They say their decision is “Consistent with MLB’s approach,” but the league has suspended all promotions immediately, not waiting till after the All-Star break. The White Sox are which contradicts their statement they are following MLB’s approach to the matter. I checked to see if the promo code SOXWIN still worked after the White Sox victory over the Royals last night. Sure enough, it does.

This is a poor decision by the White Sox chief marketing officer Brooks Boyer and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. For an organization that resides on the south side of Chicago and has a significant minority fanbase they cannot stand by a company when it’s CEO uses the N-Word. Instead of waiting until after the All-Star break, the White Sox should just cut all ties entirely with Papa John’s and find a new sponsor for pizza promotions. I’m sure one of the hundred’s in Chicago could find a way to make a deal with the White Sox.

For how ugly this season has been on-the-field the White Sox don’t need the bad press for their off-the-field decisions. There’s not enough garlic butter sauce in the world to wash this terrible taste out.

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Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Ted Mulvey

Well put, Josh. Agree 100%.

gibby32

In 2012, “Papa John” Schnatter put himself front and center opposing the Affordable Care Act by announcing dramatically that the cost of a large pizza would go up something like 14 cents if he had to provide healthcare coverage for his employees. I knew then that the guy was an asshole, and it surprises me not at all that he would use derogatory racial terms. There is a part of me that wishes that I sometimes ate his pizza, since I could now boycott it, but it always was clear to me that the pizza sucked. This is not the kind of issue that the White Sox usually screw up, although Brooks Boyer is a clown. Jerry needs to step in.

lil jimmy

I had his pizza once. So….
I also don’t good to Chick Fil A. same brand of assholes.

bobbysouthsider

I boycott everything with the Yum Yum brand behind it.  I went to school in Kentucky and it was well known that Colonel Sanders was a known bigot and racist. Can’t believe the still use his ass as the front for the brand. Actors that depict him on commercials don’t get it either.  Boyer needs to go

Milky✌️

He’s had a long history of being an asshole. As far as chain pizza goes, it’s not the worst, but I haven’t had it since that healthcare thing. Hopefully this is the last straw for everyone else.

karkovice squad

It was a poorly chosen sponsorship from the start.

Marty34

Have to disagree with you on Boyer being a clown. In my dealings with this outfit, as limited as they have been, Boyer is a very sharp guy. Jerry Reinsdorf is a very hands on owner by MLB standards.

gibby32

I don’t know if he’s sharp, but I am told that everyone in the front office hates his guts. He covers his political ass by punching down.

5742mail

It’s sorry, just like the rebuild. I would rather see young talent play and learn retread of lesser abilities.

evenyoudorn

How’d you get around the Captcha!

BenjaminButton

you’ll be missed half off meh pizza when ive been drinking #soxwin

Rex Fermier

So, who are you punishing? “Papa John” Schnatter, who made the disgusting racist comment, or the thousands of hard working employees? I think Jerry made the correct decision. Why punish everyone when only one person is the problem?

Mr. Schnatter has apologized and has had to resign as Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Company has removed all photo’s of Mr. Schnatter from their website and has started to removed his face from all marketing and advertising (e.g.: pizza boxes, signage, etc.). The University of Louisville said it will remove the Papa John’s name from its football stadium, and that it will rename the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at its business college. Earlier in the week, the school said Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees.

Make no mistake on my position, John Schnatter’s racist comments have made him a pariah and justifiably so! I’m glad to never have to see his face again.

I suggest you read the Open letter from Steve Ritchie, the CEO of Papa John’s, International, to see how this company is responding to Mr. Schnatter’s disgusting racial slur.

https://www.papajohns.com/doing-better/

NOTE: I do not own a Papa John’s franchise or work for that company.

NateDPT12

What is a strong corporate moral background? Ones that agree with you politically?

Lurker Laura

A white man calling African Americans n——- isn’t political. It’s racist and hateful. 

L2R

I 100% agree. I would go a step farther and say, let’s all stop using the word and hope it dies and is left only in history.

Rex Fermier

I don’t believe that you bothered to read the CEO’s letter. There is an example of a company showing it’s moral backbone.

karkovice squad

There is an example of a company engaging in public, performative CYA after recognizing their bottom line is about to get fucked.

As far as I can tell, Schnatter still owns 25% of the company.

Rex Fermier

Yes, he does! You can’t force someone to sell their stock.

WestEddy

Depending on the corporate charter and bylaws, yes you can.

evenyoudorn

It’s a stupid business argument to begin with, and the fact he’s not wise enough to self-edit once already headlong into his dumb argument shows that like yourself he’s probably not CEO and Board material or fit for some association with education. 

gibby32

This is the sort of rationale that obviates any accountability. The employees can move over to Domino’s. And, as said below (or above, by the time you read this), Schnatter still owns 25%.

metasox

Yes, the argument of “punishing employees” to let corporate misbehavior slide carries the day too often (part of the “too big to fail” defense). The fact is a certain amount of demand for a product (in this case, mediocre food) exists and that demand will be met with the required number of workers – whether through this enterprise or some other. Similar to the argument that a food business “created” jobs by expanding its franchise. Only if by creating jobs someone means they shifted jobs from some other business to themselves to meet the same demand.

L2R

I don’t see that his misbehavior slid. He was fired and probably will not see a job in his future.

My guess is that Papa John’s will have to buy him out as well to show that they are moving in a different direction.
Frankly, I don’t care about Papa John’s or if they sell it at 35th and Shields.

I got involved here because I was surprised by the article specifically where it was addressed and argued that it is ok the penalize the innocent. I just happened to strongly disagree with that part of the article. Maybe you have to be blindsided in life a time or two to appreciate how abrupt and life changing that can be to have compassion for those who were not a part of the problem. In any case, others have every right to have an opinion but if we are to ever to move forward as a country, we need to have some compassion and maybe even look at both sides of the facts before we plan the execution.

karkovice squad

He lost 1 title and his role as spokesperson, not all of his affiliation with the company. That’s barely a slap on the wrist given he’s still on the board and an owner.

metasox

But isn’t that the point? There needs to be accountability at the top of organizations. Enforcing that is what saves the innocent.

metasox

Plus I would add: generally speaking, when the business community polices itself, it is much easier for everyone. You’ll see fewer protests, boycotts and whatnot because the public sees that change is happening from other businesses taking action. Everyone ends up better off.

WestEddy

It’s about branding. Papa John’s brand is shit right now. The White Sox should not be partnering with shit brands.

It’s a stupid argument that you should support a business whose owner is making horrible business decisions, because you feel sorry for their employees. When you heard that Sears was going to close some stores, did you call everyone you knew and rally them to all shop at Sears for everything they needed? Then what about the employees at the Target? Should we just buy items and throw them out to keep everyone in jobs?

Lurker Laura

I don’t understand the Sox response here. This isn’t a one-time mistake from an otherwise well-meaning individual. This is the same man that said the NFL players taking a knee were ruining his business. 

L2R

I think that Schattner deserves being fired. If he has a golden parachute, I hope it catches fire at 5000 feet. That said, the guilty has been punished and Papa John’s is rid of him. So why is extending the punishment beyond that appropriate?

Maybe others there are the same or maybe they are happy he is gone- we don’t know but they don’t deserve loss of income or jobs when they did nothing wrong.

I don’t understand the times live in today. People do wrong but often it punishment is administered without due process and the penalty is out of proportion to the point is hurts the innocent.

What if lost your job because of him and business just dried up and how would you feel then?

L2R

I appreciate your passion. If there is a trend shown of racism or other deplorable behavior, then I would agree and maybe that is your position. If it because of what transpired this week, then I would consider directing the punishment towards the guilty.

metasox

And this is simply the standard method of businesses punishing behavior within the business community – like an intervention. In fact, this is a simple way to address issues. Customers can still go about buying their product. The company can then reinvent itself and will be allowed back into the normal business community.

Lurker Laura

Something tells me Papa John’s will survive. Their board will realize that they need new messaging, that man’s face will no longer be associated with them, they’ll weather the storm. If they do the right things from here on. Chick-fil-a survived following this formula – they spoke at length with the org that was boycotting them, they stopped funding hate groups, and the boycotting org ended their boycott, satisfied with the result. Papa John’s can do similarly, and they’ll be just fine.

But the Sox don’t need to be a part of their turn-around story.

L2R

Were I in the position, I would use the threat of pulling away with a strong, public statement that change needs to take place and be on public display for the partnership to continue. It makes a statement, offers a path to redemption and protects the innocent.
Frankly, threats are more powerful than walking away. What incentive is left?

I am just not ready to continue down the path we are on today in society where there the only penalty is the death penalty.

Jim Margalus

Just want to say that in the event that I have to close comments, it isn’t because of this thread, which is a valid exchange.

gibby32

I generally agree about your death penalty point, but only in circumstances where the offense is murky. This is not murky and is an opportunity to make a point not only to this company but to all companies. The people that work there are employable elsewhere.

L2R

It appears that he was quoting someone else that makes him stupid not racist in my book. We all say dumb things but that doesn’t mean that our apartment should be set on fire and well, let the neighbors find another place to live.

If you have 20 years invested in a company, built up a good job with 4 weeks vacation and had to start over, it would be unjust because of someone’s idiotic remarks being made public. Until that happens to you, then maybe it doesn’t matter.

evenyoudorn

Its hard for me to feel bad when the anti-ACA “free enterprise” guy’s company fails because the market rejects him as a person.  This isn’t government intervention but a few dozen billionaires deciding it’s bad for business to keep a sponsor. 

It always sucks for vulnerable people to get caught up in the machinations of the powerful but why is that suddenly the concern of the free market crowd?  

Marty34

From the Sox standpoint, Papa John’s did the right thing by accepting his resignation. I see no reason why they can’t continue their partnership.

karkovice squad

He resigned as chairman. He’s still on the board and owns a large stake in the company.

Marty34

Papa John’s is going through an independent audit of all the company’s processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion. The White Sox are not wrong for continuing this business relationship until they see the results of this audit.

karkovice squad

The Sox should end the relationship because it continues to financially benefit Schnatter so long as he is both on the board and has a significant ownership stake. The Sox shouldn’t funnel profits to him until/unless there are more meaningful changes.

Which seems unlikely because the letter makes it pretty clear their audit is eyewash for shareholders and employees designed to repair the reputational harm above anything else. If it turns out not to be the case they’d be free to reinstate a partnership after Papa John’s goes through its process and implements its changes. The Sox have no reason to lend their own credibility to the company until that happens.

But even if the company changes, a renewed partnership is an outcome they should avoid anyway because it was a bad match even before the latest outburst.

karkovice squad

The conference call happened in May. He resigned as chairman this week. It’s incredibly likely he received more due process and consideration than the less privileged workers you’re concerned about would receive for milder infractions. He’s also well positioned to defend himself from any reptutational harm he didn’t bring on himself.

asinwreck

Yes. Aside from ending a relationship with a racist, this is an opportunity to establish ties with a Chicago pizza place. 

lil jimmy

Levy always had a Connie’s connection. Is that gone?

bobbysouthsider

Connie’s is disgusting.  Ballpark pizza is ballpark pizza. Stupid to bring any brand in.  It all tastes the same at the game anyways.  Cardboard.  Don’t buy pizza at a ballgame….for all you kids out there….

karkovice squad

This isn’t about pizza at the park–that’s Beggars Pizza–it’s a sponsorship/promotion.

Gutteridge70

Disappointing that you and josh who put together a great Sox web site join viral lynch mobs which effects thousands of individuals who had nothing to do with the utterance of a privately stated slur.

evenyoudorn

Lynch mob, eh.  I think the intensity of your reaction betrays some baggage RE: political correctness, etc.  It’s also a little silly to act like the White Sox account is going to determine the solvency of this company given all that’s occurred already this week and the team’s media footprint. 
Will anyone think of the crust engineers!? Maybe the company leadership ought to have done that at some point, quietly.  This is obviously not the first time he’s “privately” shared his enlightened views. 

WestEddy

xyx

karkovice squad

Even if it was private it would merit censure. But as a matter of fact Schnatter uttered the slur while representing the company on a marketing conference call.

Gutteridge70

Remember when the Evergreen Park little coach Called out Jackie Robinson Team for being cheats and was denounced as a racist until it was discovered he was married to a black woman. The man was inundated with deaths threats. Beware of viral lynch mobs motivated by pc outrage. The Sox will drop the promotion if Sox fans do not want it. Let the market make the choice.

PauliePaulie

False equivalence, G70.

This is not the hill for the Sox, or any of their fans, to die on.

Being the only ones left never means you are the only ones making the correct decision.

gibby32

Because someone once was treated unfairly does not mean that everyone accused of a similar offense is being treated unfairly. Your logic is infirm.

karkovice squad

Setting aside the false equivalence, the market is making a choice. That’s what the criticism represents. So your argument doesn’t even make sense on its own terms.

gibby32

affects

Jim Margalus

I didn’t think it needed to be said that the N-word isn’t allowed here, but … the N-word isn’t allowed here.

NateDPT12

I’m confused here. He criticized the nfl anthem protests as affecting his bottom line. Stupid perhaps but in reading the comments I don’t see anything where he even mentions anything related to race. He even criticized them for not finding an agreement acceptable to both the players and owners.

Then he’s on this conference call and is asked about distancing himself from racist groups. He uses the Col Sanders comparison, a poor answer admittedly, and then talks about blacks being lynched in Indiana.  Again, these may be stupid comparisons, but they don’t necessarily indicate racial animus on his part. Especially when he’s defending his NFL comments that didn’t mention race, unless you assume that only black players were kneeling.

Even so, he’s not in a leadership role anymore and they’re pulling his likeness off everything. So what’s he problem?

evenyoudorn

But why would that comparison be needed for anything other than arguing *against* distancing from racist groups.  And the fact he is he being advised to do so by a capitalist profit minded consultant being paid by PJ himself shows that maybe this was a problem before the call.  Lots of businesses would have a meeting about the CEO once it was determined he’s associated (by others) with racists. 

NateDPT12

It strikes me as an argument against being called a racist. Which is an accusation bandied about all the time without merit. It’s a clumsy response but it doesn’t indicate racial animus without additional evidence.

Criticizing the nfl protests, the ACA, or donating to Trump don’t mean you’re racist.

Jim Margalus

The “but what’s REALLY racist?” conversation never ends well.

NateDPT12

Right. It’s a version of, “I have black friends”. The problem is saying, “I have black friends” doesn’t necessarily mean the person is racist. It depends on what the person is defending with “I have black friends.”

IllinoisJones

the point is that people who don’t say racially problematic things don’t need to say “I have black friends” because people don’t accuse them of racism.

evenyoudorn

I don’t think it’s required to judge the guy a racist. He’s the face of the company and his dumbass views are sinking them.  I’m sure “call in a PR firm” was the last option before “John, we need to talk.”  He bungled even that and got canned. 

From the Sox and MLBs perspective it also doesn’t matter if he’s in fact a racist.  The fans and community don’t like the association so they have to choose between agreeing/supporting them or supporting this moron in direct opposition to their own fans, customers and I’m sure many players (although I worry fewer than you’d hope). 

metasox

But the company only takes those actions because of this kind of pressure. There is no good reason for the Sox to stand alone in the business community.

As Cirensica

I would take Papa John off simply based on taste. Awful pizza

Gutteridge70

Good response, I like Domino’s but that is not exactly a pc choice either.

lil jimmy

I guess Domino’s has improved but This is Chicago not Georgia. Or Arizona. blugh !!! Boy have I had bad pizza in those states.

evenyoudorn

Show me the company with the balls to offer this promotion in 2020! If thousands are to be RIFd it should be because the Sox surprised the world and won a bit.  Screw those people. 

gibby32

In North Scottsdale, Pizzafarro is pretty good.

chisoxfanboy

Just when we thought the taste of  their pizza couldn’t get more offensive…

evenyoudorn

Why does the pizza have to be good? I heard The Noid used to put anthrax on his pizzas, and nobody ever asked him about that.  Where I grew up people used to eat Hot Pockets. 

PauliePaulie

#totino’s4life

Right Size Wrong Shape

Walgreens used to sell Jack’s 10 for $10. I lived on those things in college. They key was to just put extra toppings on top of it.

evenyoudorn

Pepperoncinis FTW

karkovice squad

Garlic powder, chili flakes, and parmesan can cover a lot of pizza sins.

lil jimmy

Arby’s
“Eat our Pizza. It’s not good, but you’re going to die anyway.”

“Eat Arby’s!”

Soxfan2

Not sure why you are so insistent on punishing a whole company for one scumbag employee’s words. The company employ’s over 20,000 people and this is gonna effect those people the most. If had still had a major role in the company, then absolutely, but thats not the case. It’s like saying “I’m not a clippers fan anymore because their former owner was a known racist”. I think the White Sox should have partnered with a Chicago pizza in the first place. 

evenyoudorn

A Chicago pizza place… not to be confused with Chicago’s Pizza.  HRRRP. 

Gutteridge70

Best just make your point because non -baseball rational postings is not a requirement to post on this and most baseball sites

IllinoisJones

if Papa John’s goes bankrupt (dubious), another business (or hundreds) will take it’s place. these “20,000 people” are going to have jobs again.

Amar

RENISDORF

Amar

I recall the time I was a sophomore in college, this guy, let’s call him Crazy Jerry, said he  loved the garlic butter sauce so much he could shoot it up

Papa Johns is barf pizza. Compared to other chains, I would rather have Domino’s I guess

jorgefabregas

Was he using garlic sauce for target practice or mainlining it?

Steinscribe

I have to join the defense on this one saying i think the White Sox are doing the right thing. Systemic problems at Papa Johns would merit this kind of response, but one person (albeit the public persona) being an idiot shouldn’t constitute the loss of livelihood for countless others. Sure, the cooks and delivery guys may be able to find employment elsewhere, but imagine you are a franchise owner supporting your family and every employee you have personally interviewed off of this investment decision. You based this decision on the profitability of the company at the time, not any affection for the guy whose face is on the box. Now, you are already going to pay a profit penalty for this guy’s stupid comments, but to be associated with him and have your local promotions dumped over comments you never made and thoughts you never considered is unjust. Punish the guilty, not everyone who could possibly be associated with them.