Pour out some liquor for #Sportonomics

When I teamed with videographer Anne-Marie Jackson to start the Sportonomics video series last year we had no clue where the project would take us.

We knew we were doing something different. None of us could think of a newspaper publishing a weekly video series exploring the sports industry, and certainly not one that aimed to educate viewers on the business of sport without getting bogged down in spreadsheets and financial reports. What we were doing hadn’t been done before, so we had neither role models to follow nor a checklist of mistakes to avoid.

A challenge? Definitely. But we welcomed it.

It comes with being first.


Still, undertaking the project was a gamble in a risk-averse industry. None of us knew how audiences would react to the series, or if it would make money.This is a business, after all.

So we didn’t worry about making the series commercially successful, focusing instead on doing our best work every week. Thirteen months later we’ve succeeded on that front.

We had best-selling author Jonah Keri in the newsroom to discuss the business case for bringing back the Expos, and the true cost of all those long-term, big-money free agent deals.

We featured exclusive interviews with Olympic gold medalists like Kaillie Humphries and Ashton Eaton, and even managed to interview Mike Tyson without getting cursed out.

And we kicked off December with an intervention. People with athletic physiques no longer need to commit crimes against fashion. They make jeans for us now!


I rhyme off this list of highlights not to brag but to illustrate that we’ve spent the last year meeting fascinating people, learning about all aspects of the sports industry and passing that knowledge along to our audience in the most engaging way we can.

Along the way we’ve built a small but deeply engaged community of fans, some of whom followed me from other projects and others who got involved because they liked Sportonomics. And while I was out of the office on jury duty I learned Sportonomics had won an award — The Holy Joe, which the Star gives out monthly to recognize outstanding work.

Everything I’ve told you makes what I’m about to tell you that much tougher to say.

The last episode of Sportonomics we published will be the last episode of Sportonomics we publish. Earlier this month the decision was made to discontinue the series as the Star adjusts its video lineup.

It wasn’t my choice. The series took work, but I enjoyed it. I loved exploring new ways to tell stories and pushing forward on a project unlike any other in Canadian journalism. Some other outlet might come up with something similar but Sportonomics will always be first.

But the truth is, publishing every week is ambitious at best and masochistic at worst. Co-ordinating the schedules of various busy professionals while making sure our videos aligned with print stories every week consumed a ton of time and energy. After a year overseeing Sportonomics I understand acutely why TV shows have producers.


Decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton talks to Sportonomics about how he avoided being sucked up by the football-industrial complex.


Sportonomics didn’t have producers, though. Just a superstar of a videographer and a host/writer, both of us giving the project our best despite our frenzied schedules. So even though the end of Sportonomics as a weekly video series disappoints me, it will also free me to do a lot more writing — which is what put me on the sports media map in the first place.

Is this the end of me on video?

I doubt it. It just means I’ll have to pick my spots. In the meantime I’m still writing about the sports industry, and have a couple of interesting features set to drop over the holidays.

If you love the series you can still view archived episodes at the Sportonomics home page, or head to the Sportonomics playlist on the Star’s YouTube page and view every episode back to back to back to back.

And if you’re a fan of mine you won’t have to look hard to find me.

I’ll be writing.

Just keep reading.





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