Archive for December, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays, Pro Sports & Risk Management

December 24, 2016

Sure, it is the day of Christmas Eve and I have not written a blog in quite some time but…why waste time writing several hundred words if I only need 140 characters – sorry Twitter, not this time.

Why title the blog with 1 of my favourite sports teams and link to my occupation? It does catch your attention, right? What is so strange is that I had a full day to think and re-think how the two do link and figured I better include those non-Blue Jays and other teams and pro sports fans in here or I am limiting my potential readership. Besides, I am still seething at the thought of #Edwing (yes, #EE or Edwin Encarnacion as so many in Baseball know him by now) playing for the nearly-world champ Cleveland Indians – not upset with him but with Toronto management for ignoring the fans.

I have been following closely and reading the sports items since the end of the season, following Cleveland’s win over Toronto, and (I have to admit to being a baseball fan but even more a fan of the Jays since their inauguration) blame both sides in the contractual mess-up but more with Jays new management and their lack of understanding of the Toronto market, Canada AND the huge risk with the role of the dice they have played. ¬†Yes, Kendrys Morales is a great catch but to think he is equal to the beloved EE is probably not going to happen.

Cleveland surprised many in reaching the World Series this year – the team had numerous injuries so what will a healthy team with EE look like? The Jays, on the other hand, had a pitching staff that remained healthy and didn’t make the World Series with EE so if injuries plague the team in 2017 (odds are that this will happen) and no EE – hmmm, 3rd, 4th or 5th place in the East division? I know that the 1-dimensional home run concept is not to my liking (it did fill the stands and energize fans) and it appears the team now is focusing less on that fan-drawer and a more multi-dimensional team but…my fear is loss of fans and the income accompanied by them.

What is mind boggling is that Toronto is not just Toronto’s or even Ontario’s team but Canada’s team – as Rogers reminds all of Canada – and not spending money to compete with Boston, New York, St. Louis (compare this city with the GTA and I just don’t see them more a top tier market) and Los Angeles (as a Tier 1 team should) sends a message to the country. The Jays draw fans wherever they go – Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, etc. – and the past two years have seen more attention and attendance in 20 years! Why? “We” were winning and competing so, unless the gamble this off-season pays off, one can bet the risk will increase and income decrease proportionally. And that might mean the loss of players like Josh Donaldson who ignite the stands. Will Jays fans tolerate that?

The Jays are NOT the Maple Leafs where Toronto fans have been blindly loyal for 50+ years. Leafs fans have been hopeful for a Stanley Cup they have not seen since I was a child and continue to fill the arena and buy memorabilia which is where so much revenue is earned. The Jays learned (I thought) that lesson following the strike-shortened season in the mid-90’s – and sales of their hats, etc. are nation-wide and not just in Toronto so the discussion over whether they are a Tier 1 or Tier 2 market is moot. They are most definitely a Tier 1 market when winning but will be a Tier 2 market if losing. If Rogers and management continue to be like Scrooge then good-bye fans, once again.

Do you now see the link between Risk Management and pro sport and my beloved Jays? I hope Jays management will read this from a long-time fan, a very bewildered and perplexed consultant in risk management they might wish to contract when making such poor decisions on player, fan and attendance risk in the future.