Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition – Toronto Sports Media Blog

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Happy July everybody. We are half manner by way of 2020, and for all we all know we are going to look again on these previous couple of months as the great half. Things can all the time worsen. With that mentioned, right here’s a roundup of what’s making sports activities media information across the TSM water cooler. As all the time, if there are issues we missed please add hyperlinks within the feedback or e mail/DM me.


The COVID Games


Since North American skilled sports activities shut down again in March the largest query was whether or not it might be protected to renew stay group sports activities. Almost 4 months later there isn’t any clear reply. In the approaching weeks MLS, the NBA, the NHL, and MLB are all set to renew aggressive play.


While TFC and the Raptors can be away from Toronto for his or her video games, the Leafs and Jays plan to play in Toronto. The Leafs can be joined by 11 different groups and their assist workers. As per common Bob McKenzie broke the information, on Canada Day:



As is custom, McKenzie’s house radio station TSN1050 selected to air US syndicated programming moderately than pay somebody time and half to be on air to debate their famous person insider’s breaking information. FAN590 ran native programming on the subject of Toronto being a hub metropolis however, as can be custom, didn’t credit score McKenzie with the news.


Setting apart whether or not competing for the Covid Cup in the midst of summer time is price it, the fast difficulty is whether or not the NHL is placing anybody in danger. Some media maintain the opinion that the general public well being considerations surrounding the NHL being in Toronto are manageable:



The main query for proponents of Toronto being a hub metropolis is what Vancouver is aware of that we don’t:



On the baseball aspect, issues are a bit extra sophisticated since groups could be touring forwards and backwards throughout the border and out and in of a number of cities over the course of the shortened season.



There is a distinction of opinion on this level:



While the Jays have authorities approval to play intrasquad spring coaching video games for the following three weeks, they don’t at the moment have permission to host common season video games towards American-based groups. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet has a good summary of what to anticipate as spring coaching will get below manner. His colleague Shi Davidi additionally has a good article replete with quotes from Jays’ President Shapiro.


The most fascinating inquiries to me across the determination to attempt to play skilled sports activities throughout a pandemic relate to legal responsibility. Sports are usually not important, and the truth that hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in promoting and TV rights income are at stake doesn’t change that. So, leagues that resolve to place their staff (and to a sure extent the general public at massive) in hurt’s manner are on the hook for the outcomes of that call. As Shapiro says in Davidi’s article, the choice to return “is not one that would be without any risk.” For an ideal learn on the legal responsibility aspect of issues, here is Michael McCann on whether or not waivers will shield the leagues if issues go very badly:


“Public health experts have consistently stressed that the risk of COVID-19 spreading is higher in crowded, indoor settings. To the extent courts weigh public policy considerations when assessing the legality of waivers to participate in or attend sporting events, science might not be on the side of sports. In short, while waivers seem like uncomplicated devices to protect leagues and colleges, they are anything but in practice. Don’t count on them.”


Some of those causes may clarify why famous person gamers in MLB and the NBA have chosen to not return to play in 2020. Ex-Jay David Price just lately announced he would decide out of taking part in out of concern for one of the best pursuits of his and his household’s well being. Wouldn’t the identical concerns be true for all different main leaguers? Price has earned over 100 million in his profession up to now, and so can afford to take a seat out.


It can be fascinating to look at what occurs if the variety of star gamers sitting out will increase within the coming weeks. Will leagues forge forward if their finest gamers are telling them they don’t really feel protected? Will any of us really feel good watching video games performed below medical duress? The articles I want have been being written would deal with these and associated questions. As Texas and Florida face seeing their hospitals overrun with COVID instances within the coming weeks the time is now to ask whether or not it might actually be so dangerous to attend till 2021 to start out up skilled sports activities. If the video games begin after which should be shut down it should have been a mistake. A reasonably large gamble is about to happen.


Tackling Racism in Sports


The different massive matter this week is the lengthy overdue however seemingly inconceivable notion of eliminating racist mascots and names in skilled sports activities. The Washington NFL group is significantly contemplating dropping the title Redskins, on account of strain from advertisers and branding companions.



Despite the press launch mentioning “recent events” and “feedback from our community” there may be nothing new about the issue with the title or the general public’s opposition to it. People like me who grew up listening to PTS will recall Bob McCown continually citing a examine that mentioned most Indigenous folks don’t discover the title offensive. This is a typical case of somebody discovering information to assist what they consider after which stopping any additional analysis on the topic. If you wish to learn extra about present analysis on the subject, here are some sources.



The Washington case was swiftly adopted by information that the Cleveland MLB group who just lately moved on from their racist emblem was considering a brand new title as properly:


“The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”


Again right here there’s a reference to “recent” occasions. In each instances the strain of the present political local weather appears to be making a distinction. But what precisely is that strain? Is it a worry of shedding promoting {dollars} or is it a change in values? In some sense, it doesn’t actually matter which rationalization is correct. What issues is that public going through organizations are coming to see that energetic or passive tolerance of racism is unacceptable. This places the Canadian give attention to the CFL and the Edmonton Eskimos. The group just lately introduced it intends to ramp up session with the Inuit group.


The frequent thread by way of these instances is that sports activities groups are more and more unable to quote custom or heritage or “the way things were” as an excuse for racist behaviour. Rather than getting right into a nuanced debate about historical past, the suitable response is solely to ask why organizations would select to defend a establishment that perpetuates racist attitudes. It’s only a title, and there are dozens of domestically significant names which can be unambiguously on the fitting aspect of historical past. Pick a kind of and transfer ahead.


This level about disrupting the problematic establishment applies inside sports activities media as properly. Donnovan Bennett just lately penned one other powerful piece on the dearth of variety in sports activities media:


“Odds are your local newspaper doesn’t have a Black sports reporter. Your national newspaper of choice definitely doesn’t. The beat reporters for every Canadian team in every league are almost all white. You will not find a Black voice hosting a sports talk show on your radio dial. You won’t see a Black person on the board or executive leadership team of a major Canadian sports media company.”


This article addresses so many essential points, together with the tacit acceptance of discrimination by essentially the most highly effective folks in sports activities media. I wrote just lately about this matter here. The motive why Bennett’s piece is particularly notable is that his personal community is among the many league leaders in compulsively hiring white males.



It has been a couple of years since this picture was proudly marketed throughout the Sportsnet household of channels however in 2020 the lineup seems to be just about the identical. The FAN has fired so many radio hosts over the past decade, but they all the time come again to the acquainted Toronto archetype of what a sports activities radio host seems to be and seems like. As along with his colleague David Singh, Bennett doesn’t exit of his approach to title the folks whose behaviour he calls out within the article. As a reader I might moderately know whom to not assist going ahead, however that isn’t my determination to make.


Bennett rightly factors out that, overwhelmingly, Toronto sports activities media includes white males masking Black athletes. Recent research demonstrates how language decisions, be they aware or non, in sports activities commentary reinforce racist attitudes and stereotypes. Bennett notes that till there’s a dedication to breaking the self-perpetuating cycle of marginalizing Black voices by making White voices the established order, change is unlikely:


“Thirteen years into my career, I’ve never been managed by a Black person, assigned a story by a Black person or had a story I wrote edited by a Black person. I’ve never worked on a show produced or directed by a Black person, either. I’d love to have those opportunities, just as I’d love to have people in my industry to confide in who look like me, especially when another reporter says something in my presence that exposes the unconscious bias that runs rampant in sports media.”


As I’ve written many instances, take into consideration what it’s prefer to be a Black Raptor or a Latino Blue Jay and to face the native media day after day. The Raptors and Jays beats are 100% White. This doesn’t imply Doug Smith, Eric Koreen, and Ryan Wolstat are dangerous at their jobs or don’t deserve the prospect to jot down about basketball. It additionally doesn’t imply that Shi Davidi must be taught Spanish to maintain masking Vladdy Jr. It’s a collective failure by a bunch of various organizations, and because of this Bennett’s piece is particularly consequential.


Sportsnet deserves credit score for permitting him to jot down a bit that factors the finger again at his personal employer. The different main employers – TSN, The Star, The Sun, The Athletic – must also be scrutinizing their very own hiring practices and what they’ll do to diversify their lineups. One of the problems is that Bennett is at the moment on an island by way of no fault of his personal:


“Being Black has become my beat, and I’m often covering it alone. As proud as I am of the work, I’d love some company, and I’d love to be considered an expert on something else for a change.”


I think about it is extremely irritating to be in a discipline the place you wish to discuss all the identical sports activities matters as everybody else, however hold getting requested to speak about race. In a metropolis as numerous as Toronto, with the big variety of jobs in sports activities media that also exist, the established order isn’t acceptable.


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Stephen Brunt deserves to be counted among the many finest sports activities journalists in Canada. Someone of that stature shouldn’t be narrating promotional movies for Tim & Sid.



  • Bob McCown’s comfortable re-launch continues:



  • I do not know what occurred to TSN’s Dan O’Toole over the previous few days but it surely was harrowing to witness. I hope his household is doing okay. If you need a rundown, Postmedia has the details. If you need a risky click you possibly can learn what Dean Blundell needed to say.





thanks for studying and commenting,

till subsequent time …

mike (probably not in boston)

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