Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: The Sun

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by mike in boston / @mikeinboston / hatemailaccount at gmail

 

Good morning sports media fans. Lots of stuff to talk about this week so let’s get right to it. With TSM posting more I’ll probably trim down the size of my weekend column going forward, but not this day …

 

Good Week for Gender Equality in Hockey

 

One of the first things I started writing about in this space was the lack of women in prominent positions in Toronto sports media. We spent a lot of time discussing that issue, with many people chiming in on both sides. My own opinion is that the persistent paucity of women on either radio station and at the papers reflects poorly on the state of the media in Toronto. Simply put and with apologies to Rosie DiManno, women are not really part of the sports conversation in Toronto.

 

This past week I have had plenty of debates with a range of people, both in sports media and outside of the industry, about the high profile firings of Steve Lepore and Adrian Dater for their conduct towards female bloggers.

 

Lepore was a relatively high profile hockey blogger (i.e. one with a press pass) for several outlets, including Awful Announcing. He privately asked several women with whom he publicly interacted on Twitter to pose for sexy photo-shoots, and then continued to write to at least one of them when she asked that he stop. He was fired by AA. Dater was a high profile hockey writer for the Denver Post. He asked for revealing pics from a woman who he previously insulted by saying that he wasn’t “going to argue with a woman.” His sexual overture prompted her to post the screenshots of his DMs. He was fired by the Post and posted a lengthy comment on Facebook, which to my eyes reads more as “sorry I got caught” than “I am sorry for what I did.”

 

At the risk of oversimplifying, people tend to fall into two camps: 1) those of us who think these firings are a sign of progress with respect to the social equality of women, and 2) those who think the incidents in question are overblown. Note that people in the 2nd category don’t think gender equality is unimportant; they just think that people shouldn’t have to lose their jobs over their private correspondence.

 

(Side-note: you’ll recall that privacy was an important aspect of the Donald Sterling saga, and I voiced a lot of support for him suing to keep his team on grounds of due process. In my opinion, these cases are different for reasons I’ll explain below)

 

For an example of the latter, see David Shoalts of the Globe:

 

 

There is a reasonable debate to be had here, but I think that this camp is fighting a battle not worth winning. Here is why: the common theme in the Lepore and Dater cases is that you have people in a position of power exploiting that position to try sexualize a professional relationship.

 

I don’t want to overstate the power angle but I do think it’s an important part of this story. In both cases you have female hockey bloggers trying to gain credibility in their favourite sport. In both cases they develop working relationships with people who are respected in the field. And in both cases the guy tries to make things sexual, implicitly leveraging the power differential.

 

I’m not saying Twitter is a professional environment — surely not — but what I am saying is that the power dynamics matter. The lesson here is that if you are a man in a position of power you can’t just throw sexual comments around to your female audience and think there will be no blowback. That, to me, is progress. This is a roadstop along the path towards equality. Previous stops included being able to playfully slap a female co-worker on the ass. That is highly inappropriate in retrospect. So is this.

 

The one point many people make in response is that if either guy had tried this act in a bar no one would have complained. That’s precisely the point in my opinion: they didn’t meet these women at the bar. Rather, both guys lobbed these comments in the context of what was, to the other party, a professional relationships. That’s what makes this kind of behaviour inappropriate.

 

Now, do they deserve to be fired? I think that is a separate discussion. That is entirely at the discretion of their employers. Many people have expressed indignation at the amount of “piling on” that came from the Twitter “outrage enthusiasts” and “social justice warriors.” I can understand why people complain about this. There are a lot of people who look for any opportunity to remind everyone just how progressive they are when it comes to equality. I agree this is annoying. It’s like slapping a “support the troops” sticker on your car and thumping your chest about patriotism. But this shouldn’t weaken your disdain for the initial offense.

 

I’ll close by making this point: incidents like Dater and Lepore make all men in the industry look bad. The reason why sports media (and other industries) look like a giant misogyny machine is because of precisely this type of behaviour. By getting rid of offenders everyone gets to inch slightly closer to meaningful gender equality. That’s why it’s not worth parsing the nuances of whether what they did was worse than some other bad thing someone else did. If these guys grow into better people as a result of all of this, great. In the meantime, good riddance to people who were holding the rest of us back.

 

Katie over at PPP had some thoughts worth reading.

 

Good Week for LGBT Equality

 

MLB umpire Dale Scott casually came out as gay this week. This is a pretty cool development. While there are no openly gay baseball players yet, this will undoubtedly make that process easier. I would love for MLB to mic him up this season. I’m willing to bet we’d hear some profoundly human exchanges. It will be interesting to watch if this affects his career going forward.

 

Bruce Arthur has a nice story on the COC moving the cause of equality forward. After the awful display of hatred for homsexuals displayed by Russia’s political leadership this is a great and overdue statement. “Nine months later, the Canadian Olympic Committee is poised to become a leader rather than one of the silent crowd.” This is something of which we should be proud as Canadians. 

 

The rain on this week’s parade came courtesy of Tony Dungy who took this week’s reinstatement of Ray Rice as an opportunity to double down on his “principled” stance that homosexuals have no place in sports but that he’d welcome Rice on his team. Cyd Zeigler has a note perfect response.

 

Quick Hits

 

Some players on the St. Louis Rams acknowledged Ferguson by coming out of the tunnel with their hands up indicating “don’t shoot!” The local police are not happy. Sports always wins these fights, and I think more players should use their platform to speak out on social issues.

 

After last week’s suspension of Keith Law by ESPN, Professor Curt Schilling continues to embrace debate by clarifying that evolution within species happens all the time but that it cannot happen across species, which explains why humans didn’t come from monkeys.

 

Zelkovich confirms the anticipated low television numbers for Grey Cup. If this repeats itself next year then it will be a trend. Until then, I’m done talking about this issue. The CFL has seen the darkest of days and come through.

 

Shoalts has a very impressive piece of journalism on Rogers missing their viewership targets and what this means in terms of the promises they made to advertisers. It’s worth nothing that Shoalts is one of the few free agents in Toronto journalism. Not sure this article gets written if he regularly appears on either network.  As an aside, Shoalts has been delivering the journalistic goods lately after a period of being in the wilderness. He’s on my “must-read” list. Who is currently on yours?

 

Westhead has a detailed and thorough story on the Arland Bruce CFL lawsuit. Pretty critical article from someone working for a CFL broadcast partner. Good on TSN for letting him write the story.

 

Andrew Stoeten (ex-DJF) announced that he will contribute to the National Post’s baseball coverage this coming year. I know his writing is not for everyone, but anyone who gets John Lott’s seal of approval has to be doing something very right. Congratulations to Andrew.

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Simmons called out Bob McCown for not reading the book that Bob and Naylor co-wrote. Perhaps the issue in question was covered in the, surely very small, section of the book that Naylor wrote by himself. Simmons fights with fans and athletes quite a bit, nice to see him set his target on the media every now and then.

 

  • If you only have time to listen to one interview this week, consider Naylor & Arthur talking to ESPN The Magazine’s Don Van Natta on the Ray Rice situation. No obnoxious interruptions, and no disingenuous arguments. Just great back and forth among three professional journalists. Find it here, or during the 3rd hour of TSN Drive on Dec 3rd in iTunes.

 

  • New Blue Jay Josh Donaldson appeared on Blair then Macko&Cauz in consecutive segments on Monday Dec 1 during the 9am hour. I challenge you to listen to both interviews and then argue with me that Blair doesn’t needs a cohost. Blair has lots of good thoughts on baseball but there is way too much dead air on his show. A co-host would solve that. Why hasn’t this happened yet? Surely Ennis or Sammut or Rusic or Wong have earned a shot at a regular gig.

 

  • AA on PTS a day before the AJ Happ trade: “It is highly unlikely we will trade any of our current starters.” Was this a lie or did the trade materialize out of the blue the next day?

 

  • Don Cherry called out Nazem Kadri on Brady&Walker on Monday. It’s amazing how these guys always get the most newsworthy quotes from their guests. How do they do it?

 

—–

 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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Tanner
December 6, 2014 10:33 am

I’m still trying to figure out why Shoalts decided to lump in Dater with Beliveau. How in the world was that a good idea? That made Shoalts look foolish. The issue at hand was that Shoalts and others seemed upset that Dater was let go and they didn’t call him out for his actions. Many guys didn’t understand that and fanned the flames.

Another forgotten thing is that Dater had a history of acting more like a shock jock than a professional journalist. Before social media even existed, he wrote some awful things in articles and in comments to readers. If he didn’t have that history, I can kinda see why others might defend him. That said, he finally went too far and his long list of acting like a jerk caught up to him. If he wanted to act unhinged, he chose the wrong profession. A beat writer is held to higher standards which seems lost on many. Dater never realized that and apparently neither did many of his colleagues.

MattK
MattK
December 6, 2014 10:55 am

-Shoalts article on hockey ratings. Funny how Moore is downplaying the ratings, yet isn’t he the one who would go on the fan 590 and brag how good the stations ratings were.

-Happ was the 5th starter at best on the Jays for 2015 so I have no problem with AA’s quote. He was maybe referring to the Dickey talk

-The National Post now has the best Blue Jay blogger and print writer working for them, impressive.

-Blair should never take calls, I can handle the rest of his program but not the callers, so replace them with another person.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
December 6, 2014 11:31 am

The Shoalts article was a very interesting read. I would think over the length of the contract all things will balance out. But there are some red flags. One is the production costs. Since they are not in the $443MM they have to be covered too. I suspect game coverage and studio runs at least to 15-20% of the rights cost. I would look for a slimming of these costs after the big launch. They really don’t contribute to viewership, good hockey games do.

The other issue is cord cutting. With the continued escalation of cable cost where will penetration sit in 5-10.years chard core sports fans will still subscribe. But maybe only for part of the year. You will definitely lose some causal fans period. I guess some will buy the over the top service after cancelling canle but how many. You can find games for free currently although quality is an issue.

All in all Rogers will likely make out fine. And it will feed the egos of the core execs too. Revolutionizing (yes I’m being facetious) Canada’s game looks great on a resume. After all Pelley led the Olympic consortium which lost a boatload of money and he parlayed that into his current gig. Sometimes you need to fail to succeed I guess.

Dean
Dean
December 6, 2014 11:59 am

Nice read this week. Shoals had some great insights about Rogers struggles to deliver ratings promises.
I hadn’t seen Westhead’s piece on the CFL fight with Bruce. Wow. I am amazed TSN gave him the ok. But very impressed. I heard Westhead interviewed when he joined TSN last month or so. Guy goes from dodging Taliban to sports. Great reporting in Canadian Hockey league labor issue too. I’d say Friedman and Westhead and perhaps Grange are top sports investigative reporters in the country. Are there more?

GreyCountyMike
GreyCountyMike
December 6, 2014 12:33 pm

The Shoalts piece on the NHL ratings is very impressive. Good work.

As for his Tweet about Dater, Tanner nails it: It’s one thing to publicly support a colleague and friend; it was downright bizarre to include a reference to Beliveau in the same Tweet.

I like Shoalts; always have. He’s one of few Toronto sports media types who, over the years, has remained fairly grounded. But his public loyalty to Dater, although perhaps commendable on a personal level, did not serve his own image well.

alex
alex
December 6, 2014 2:55 pm

I like Blair but the show has become too formulaic: hour of hockey, hour of baseball, hour of raptors or football.

Selfishly, id like more futbol talk at least on momday and friday, dor preview/review weekend action. And not just the same two rogers analysta.

Daniel
Daniel
December 6, 2014 7:30 pm

I find at this time of year, Blair is a must listen if you’re a Jays fan. If you compare his Jays talk to, say, McCown, it’s crazy how much more informed and knowledgable Blair is.

Having said that, yeah… the phone in segments can get a bit dry. 3 hours is a lot to do on your own, so I suppose calls help flesh it out. A cohost could be good. Maybe Friedman here and there?

Devin Stobart
December 7, 2014 1:29 am

I would also like to see Sammut/Rusic get more publicity I think they do a great job with almost no commercials or hype around them. I don’t think either of them would really be a suitable match for Blair though. They work best together IMO. Ben Ennis I could see there.

Anyone know what Donovan Bennett is up to besides cut or uncut on timandsid? I think he has more to offer than being pigeonholed with his former score compadres.

Also first time commenting but like the info I’ve read here. Keep up the good work.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
December 7, 2014 5:18 am

BBBlair should not have a job in electronic media anywhere!
There are so many hosts out there that are in-between jobs or other talking heads that would be a 100 % improvement if given a chance.

Sully
Sully
December 7, 2014 8:16 am

LOL, Bob’s NFL sources are making him look foolish again. Anyone remember when he was convinced that the San Diego Chargers were on the verge of moving? Well, apparently Bob is now convinced that the Raiders will be sold. He tried this out on SI NFL insider Don Banks who was like “the Raiders aren’t for sale” … awkward.

Bob shoul;d stick to what he is good at, whatever that is anymore.

WestDale Rocks
WestDale Rocks
December 7, 2014 9:31 am

Re: Women in Sports Media. What Dater and Lepore did was sexual harassment and in my opinion, the firings were justified. Anybody in a position of power using that position to gain unwanted access to the bedroom, is wrong.
As for having more women/visible minorities on the air? Maybe I’m being naive here, but to me it should come down to how good somebody is, regardless of gender or race. If I’m watching or listening, I want to know that the person talking knows what they’re talking about and/or makes sensible arguments on the air.

Mullah_Kintyre
Mullah_Kintyre
December 7, 2014 10:48 am

I seem to remember McCown also bewilderingly alleging the ownership of the Raiders was up in the air and would be the subject of lengthy legal battles, because Al Davis has supposedly died without leaving a will.
Maybe he pulls some of these nonsensical “inside information from unnamed sources” things out of his rear end for something to talk about, but it is perplexing that he would keep bringing it up again and again for months, long after he should have realized it was completely unfounded nonsense.

Drumanchor
Drumanchor
December 7, 2014 12:02 pm

GreyCountyMike: Your comment is very well articulated. The only things I might add is that Beliveau’s name came up in that tweet because, perhaps, he was already tweeting about him at the time. Who knows?

I have always liked Shoalts, too. I like his writing and I miss him on PTS (speaking of gender equality, I miss Mary Ormsby, as well), I also give Shoalts some slack as I believe he lost a son recently and that can’t be easy to overcome – ever.

As for Dater, sometimes people are just jerks – regardless of how much alcohol or blow they ingest. I’m hoping that after he gets some professional help, he’ll grow up. There is no excuse for bad behaviour and if he gets a second chance at his marriage and being an employed writer, I hope he uses it wisely.

Speaking of growing up, the woman who was the victim of his unwarranted sexual advances could have handled it very differently. I sympathize that she was put in an uncomfortable situation, however, was there not a better way get him to stop? Could she not have gone to his editors immediately with her information instead of posting it on her twitter account for the world to see? This could have been handled behind closed doors but she was more interested in being the catalyst to a public shaming.

I’m loath to say it, but it very much seems to me that she was more interested in getting her own name out there than anything else.

Sam
Sam
December 7, 2014 2:17 pm

On the JA Happ trade and whether it was “one of their starters” I’d say that AA was not lying here – Happ’s a bubble starter for next year at best and I’d say their ideal rotation would not include him.

Tanner
December 7, 2014 3:09 pm

@Drumanchor Shoalts brought up Beliveau because he was classy and evidently complaining about Dater wasn’t classy. Shoalts had tweeted a comment about being sad for Dater. He took heat from people including myself for only saying that and not condemning his repeated behavior. He believed a classy person wouldn’t do that.

As far as Maria going public about Dater, one of Steve Lepore’s victims actually tried what you suggested (http://theblondeside.com/2014/12/02/stevelepore/) She was mocked and attacked and Lepore continued to harass others. Women seem to get nowhere unless they do go public and even then they still get attacked. They can’t win.

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
December 7, 2014 3:10 pm

“Damien Cox @DamoSpin · 4 hours ago
Boy, this Beeston news is quite the rim rocker for a Sunday morning.”

“Rim rocker”? Which of the definitions does Damien mean?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Rim%20Rocker

Bob
Bob
December 7, 2014 4:28 pm

Rumour, Jay’s talking to Baltimore regarding hiring Dan Duquette to replace Beeston as prez,

yaz
yaz
December 7, 2014 7:22 pm

Brady and Walker have recently begun replaying interviews in their 3rd hour from the 6 AM or 7 AM hour. I understand, but they don’t let the listener know while Brian Hayes, when he does it, does introduce the interview as a replay. I don’t think Brady & Walker should go down this road- they have great chemistry and a great show; degrades the podcast.

Brian Hayes has been doing that for a long time but it makes more sense for the Brian Hayes Show. How many people are listening from 2-4 PM anyway? And Hayes is by himself, its hard to maintain that connection with your audience when you’re a lone wolf. I appreciate it for the Hayes show, but I feel for Brady and Walker they’re slacking off.

Antonio
Antonio
December 8, 2014 9:06 am

Considering gay people make up about 2% of the population and even far less in the sports world, there’s way too much talk on their “rights” and “equality”.

MIB, you’re just as bad as the mainstream media – pro-gay, pro-liberal, anti-conservative. Boring.

Drumanchor
Drumanchor
December 8, 2014 9:45 am

Wow. A real live troll.

@Antonio: I can’t speak for MIB, but as far as I’m concerned it’s ALL about “equality”. Nobody is “pro” gay here. Tell us what is wrong with trying to treat everyone equally? You deserve it. Everyone deserves it.

As for your statistics, how did you come across these numbers? Can you provide prove of this or did you pull these out of your ass? (My guess is that it is probably not the first thing you’ve had up there)

Allen
Allen
December 8, 2014 9:48 am

Add me to the list of people who thinks Shoalts is mostly sticking up for a friend. I guess that’s a good thing, but Dater comes across as a total jerk so I’m not sure what that says about those who call him a friend. Lepore seems more like your traditional creepy guy who has a hard time with women.

Put me on team Rusic to join BBlair’s show. Even if they made the producer a regular on-air person it would help fill some of Blair’s pregnant pauses. Or they could add Grange and then sell commercials to run during the space when he is trying to put a thought together.

Also, MIke Richards has been killing it lately.

Antonio
Antonio
December 8, 2014 10:11 am

@Drumanchor
Don’t be such a cliché. first with the “troll” accusation and the overall hissy fit you’re throwing. Just my opinion – if that’s OK with people like you.

Owl Shannon
Owl Shannon
December 8, 2014 10:45 am

did anyone listen to the abomination on PTS on friday? Can’t wait to see the new ratings. I wonder if the new Rogers CEO is going to make some changes at the FAN/Sporstnet. He could by killing off that useless magazine no one reads. Whose dumb ideas was that?

Curt
Curt
December 8, 2014 11:48 am

That’s not the first anti-gay post from Antonio (“who’s just voicing his opinion”…typical response from wing-nuts). My guess is he’s overcompensating for his own gayness. Btw, it’s one in nine – but you should know that…

Antonio
Antonio
December 8, 2014 12:16 pm

@Curt
So anyone who doesn’t get all giddy about this topic is really gay? That makes a lot of sense. You’re not very original……or smart.

BTW, my post wasn’t any-gay in any way.

Antonio
Antonio
December 8, 2014 12:26 pm

Look everyone, I stated my opinion and after receiving a few veil insults (some even homophobic, ironically) I defended these comments.

Go ahead and continue the hysterical posts, if you want. I’ll just ignore the ignorant.

Daniel
Daniel
December 8, 2014 5:24 pm

Anything more boring than when the Fan cuts to press conferences for non Toronto NHL teams? Even if it’s a team you actually care about, press conferences are boring. Don’t need an afternoon of Sens talk, thanks.

Steve Jones
Steve Jones
December 8, 2014 6:57 pm

Interesting premise on the value of live sports properties Mike. I know it is the thought du jour. But like all things there is a ceiling. Where it is is the debate. After all the money all flows downhill. Advertisers have to spend more, fans have to pay more for cable. I think the bellwether will be ESPN. They are currently getting just over $6 per subscriber which is over double the next highest channel. If they top out then it to me will signal they have reached financial saturation.

Here the question is can Rogers hold on to enough cable subscribers to have a large enough hockey universe. And will that universe watch enough hockey to ensure ad audiences. I would think they will have enough horsepower to take the lead over TSN in audience. But if it is at the expense of profitability then it’s kind of a hollow victory. Except for the suits who can use it to prove victory. In the end who really cares who is number 1? Most of us just want to watch the game.

Reggie
Reggie
December 8, 2014 7:42 pm

Two stupid fucks who got what they deserved. Are you such a Loser you have to proposition some woman online for nudity??? Try pornhub you dbag.

Freddy B
Freddy B
December 9, 2014 7:42 am

You can count Brady & his sidekick Walker as part of the media’s “misogyny machine.” Both guys were making fun of Dater and Lepore’s victims on this morning’s show. I mean, we all knew that Brady is your typical dumb jock already, but I thought Walker was better than that. I guess not.

I won’t be listening again.

Mike S
Mike S
December 9, 2014 11:24 am

In my opinion Blair has always needed a co-host…………it is extremely hard to be entertaining by yourself on radio and Blair is not one of the few guys that can do it

They tried Grange as a co-host for Blair for a few weeks during ratings period a couple of years ago………..it wasn’t perfect but it was better than solo Blair…………anything that would reduce the phone calls and dead air on that show would be an improvement………..Hayes could also use a co-host on the 2:00 to 4:00 portion of his show on 1050

Adding a co-host on Tuesday to Thursday for the first hour of PTS has been a positive………..I enjoy those hours of PTS more than Monday & Friday when it is just McCown taking calls

Mullah_Kintyre
Mullah_Kintyre
December 9, 2014 2:06 pm

I also miss hearing Mary Ormsby on the round tables. She had no trouble mocking McCown when he deserved it.

Comment exchanges above reminded of something here from a couple of years ago when some guy seemed inexplicably annoyed when someone he called a “gay activist/Nazi” made an appearance or two on PTS discussing relevant issues in the sports news at the time. I’m still confused about how it would be possible for someone to fit that “gay activist/Nazi” description — maybe someone who wants himself sent to death camp?

dogpounder
dogpounder
December 9, 2014 10:06 pm

Abomination is the correct word, Owl Shannon.

There’s nothing more to be said.

alex
alex
December 9, 2014 11:42 pm

I gave pts about 5 minutes today at the 5:00 hour. After some inanity about hockey nicknames and Reid being offended by bob’s amusement at the hockey pucks not predicting Maclean’s hiring, i shut it off.

Doug
Doug
December 10, 2014 1:26 am

A little off topic here but has anybody heard where Steve kouleas is at these days. The walking and talking hockey encyclopedia!!

Doug
Doug
December 10, 2014 1:27 am

Even greg sansone for that matter?

Devin Stobart
December 10, 2014 3:20 pm

@Doug –

Kouleas did Thats Hockey 2 Night (TH2N) on TSN2 after most of the east coast games ended. Not sure if he’s still doing that show but assume he is still at TSN in some capacity.

Sansone is currently the General Manager of Sportsnet360.

(Another) Andrew
(Another) Andrew
December 10, 2014 3:40 pm

Sansone is currently the General Manager of Sportsnet360

I enjoyed the show he used to do with Martine Gaillard on weeknights at 10pm on The Score long before I’d ever heard of PTS. Back then the channel was cool. Today it is a Rogers joke.

Carl J
Carl J
December 10, 2014 8:10 pm

Kouleas and TSN parted ways apparently over money…good move by TSN…

Doug
Doug
December 10, 2014 11:45 pm

Oh ok well I hope kouleas gets involved somehow with the nhl again as he is good for the game and promoting it. Be nice to hear sansone on radio or tv again from time to time. I can’t remember the guys name but sansone used to interview him on the score. He was an old first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles. It was always live entertainment to say the least!!

daver
daver
December 11, 2014 12:16 pm

Doug, I think you’re talking about Jim Traber.

Doug
Doug
December 11, 2014 6:10 pm

Jim traber
Yes
Thank you
That guy always made me laugh whether I agreed with him or not

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