The story behind #Sportonomics
In August 2011, the moment I learned I’d been traded from the Toronto Star’s sports department to its business team, I felt a twinge of anxiety over how I’d manage this task. More than a twinge, actually. I worried for a week about how I’d connect with an audience interested in finance and the economy when the sum of my training in those areas consisted of a freshman year macroeconomics course and an intro to stats class I took as a junior.
I earned C’s both times, and those courses occurred longer ago than I’m comfortable admitting, so you’ll understand if I headed to the business department feeling a little under-equipped.
But I also started my new gig with three massively important assets.
The first was a pretty detailed knowledge of the beyond-the-field issues that add depth to sports coverage.
Second, I had a smallish but very loyal audience established over five years in the sports department and 18 months pinch-hitting on The Morning Jones.
Third, and most crucially, I had a boss who was willing to hear me out.
So when I asked the Star’s then-business editor, Irene Gentle, for a little leeway to explore the sports industry in our pages she gladly granted it, and over the next 12 months I covered topics from José Bautista’s endorsements to Floyd Mayweather’s business model to the Most Lucrative 10 Seconds in Sport.
It was a win-win.
Instead of fumbling for words to explain mutual funds, I was able to speak to readers in a language we both understand, while expanding my network of sports experts and learning more about broader business topics along the way. The move also allowed the business department to engage existing readers in a new way while also connecting with an audience that wouldn’t normally open the business section of the paper or visit the business page on theStar.com.
It made so much sense that when current business editor Doug Cudmore took over last fall, he encouraged me to do even more sports-biz stories. I responded by test-driving a pair of $900 Easton hockey skates — and falling on my face.
More importantly, I responded by pitching the idea of a sports-business video series.
So after several months, a couple of false starts and a series of pivotal votes of confidence #Sportonomics was born.
I’m teaming up with All-Star videographer Anne-Marie Jackson, and every week we’ll be at the intersection of sports and business, telling stories about the entrepreneurs, innovators, athletes and executives who make the sports industry so dynamic.
To learn more about the project, click here to view the trailer.
And to see the first episode, click here to watch the Air Canada Centre’s concessions staff mobilize to feed an arena full of sports fans.
And to join the conversation, talk to us on social media using the hashtag #Sportonomics.
If you’re a friend of my writing, I’ve got you covered. I’m still on top of my sports-biz and general assignment writing duties in the Star’s business department, and as often as possible we plan to couple #Sportonomics videos with written stories.
Either way, we’re exploring the sports industry every Monday and you’re all invited to join us.
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