Category Archives: sports

Welcome! Episode #28: Georgia Sapounas

Georgia Sapounas is a former Canadian and World Champion figure skater and current Senior Manager of Digital Marketing for Team Canada (Canadian Olympic Committee).

In this episode we talk about her journey from a child wanting to be in the Olympics to being on the women’s team figure skating team at the Canadian and World Championships. We also chatted about her retiring from elite athletics and getting into digital and social media.

Today, Georgia heads up strategy and planning for Team Canada’s digital and social team.

Listen here:

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Welcome! Episode #27: Arturo Marcano

This podcast was originally published on: May 31, 2016 on Girth Radio.

Arturo Marcano is a Toronto-based author who writes about the problems in Latin American countries caused by the globalization of baseball, specifically Major League Baseball (MLB).

In this hour-plus long conversation Marcano shares with us:
– how MLB has helped shape the cycle of poverty in the baseball-talent rich nations of Venezuela and the Dominican Republic
– why this same problem doesn’t exist in Mexico or Japan
– why there are not a lot of players in MLB from Mexico
– the upcoming battle between Cuban baseball and MLB
and much, much more!

Enjoy!

Listen below:

Girth Radio
MixCloud 
iTunes
Google Play Music
Stitcher 
TuneIn
You can also subscribe to the podcast via RSS Feed if you’re so inclined.

The Day I Interviewed a Big Thinker

I was recently reminded of this short interview I did with Jon Sinden. Sinden is now the VP of Marketing for Beerlicious. His most recent gig before that was building the social and digital properties for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

This particular interview was conducted in the press box high above center ice at the Air Canada Centre which is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors.

We chatted a bit about the role of digital and social in bringing fans closer to the action. I hope you enjoy!

What the heck did we learn from the #WorldCup2014?

One thing I learned from this year’s edition of the World Cup in Brazil is that my son emotionally invests in his team: Argentina. The South American nation became his favourite to win the World Cup when he completed an in-depth assignment on Argentina for his Grade Two class. So it was no surprise that he wept when Messi and his team lost to the hated side from Germany. He blamed the referee for cheating (not far off if you believe some internet sites) and Germany for taking away Argentina’s rightful place as the best soccer nation in the world.

Argentina Fans Crying - from Jonathan Fun
Sad Argentina Fans – from Jonathan Fun

Here’s what else we learned:

  1. Even with the latest in technology and the ubiquitous nature of TV and personal cameras, soccer players continue to “dive” and embellish injuries.
  2. The world is in LOVE with The Beautiful Game. I mean, in LOVE like an 8 year old loves Pokemon or a 3 year old loves Lightning McQueen.
  3. Canadians love the World Cup and the international game of soccer more so than their national or local teams. We can name more players on the (insert team foreign country) team than we can Team Canada or any of Canada’s MLS teams.
  4. The team from Germany is not just a good tactical team. They are a damn good soccer team.
  5. Soccer TV commentators don’t need a “colour” man. They can do both play-by-play and colour commentating.
  6. Canada needs to learn how to play soccer and unlearn how to play soccer like it’s another version of hockey. Until then, they are doomed to never make it to the World Cup Finals tournament.
  7. England continues to disappoint. Were they ever a good team?
  8. Everyone, including myself, is a soccer expert for at least one month every 4 years.
  9. Soccer fans like to use Twitter.
  10. I know soccer. Proof:
Winner of the #WC2014 office pool!
Winner of the #WC2014 office pool!

#FollowFriday – @PitchTalks

Pitch Talks - TED Talks with grass stains
Pitch Talks – TED Talks with grass stains

Think TED Talks with grass stains.

That is the message that greets you when you visit PitchTalks.ca. And you WILL visit that website. It’s one of the best new things on the internet today.

If you’re a baseball fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a sports fan, this site is for you.

If you’re a Toronto sports media fan, this site is for you.

And if you want to attend a PitchTalks go to the next one.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_byT4yQdNXM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

#TBT – Xinzhuang Baseball Court, New Taipei City

Toronto is baseball crazy at the moment with the Toronto Blue Jays doing well in the American League East this year. So far. However, baseball is not the sole domain of North America. It’s huge in Asia. Specifically, Taiwan.

I was in Taipei earlier this spring and got the chance to go to a baseball game between the Elephants and Monkeys. As my son would say, “Go Primates!”

The game was pretty good. However, it was the atmosphere that I enjoyed the most. No one is drunk although they serve beer. It’s a family atmosphere even though the crowd is split between the rival teams. And the crowd is generally very well behaved even though the entire stadium is singing, clapping and cheering throughout the game. It’s amazing!

Here are some photos inside and outside the stadium.

 

 

Toronto Is Awesome: Reason #6 – Sports

This is my sixth article in the Toronto Is Awesome series. I would love your comments, thoughts and future suggestions for this series.

Say what you will about Toronto’s professional sports teams (yes we know they historically “suck” – I am still a die hard Jays fan) there is still one thing that you cannot deny: Toronto is a sports town. And not just professional sports.
No matter the season, we are an active city.
Rain or shine, cyclists can be found navigating the streets of (mostly downtown) Toronto; kids play soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter; swimming and martial arts classes are filled throughout the year and baseball diamonds are busy many weekday summer nights.
Sports. Ya gotta love this town!
toronto sports teams
toronto sports teams

(Update) Toronto’s social media winner: sports team category

(UPDATE – 4/19/2011: I’ve included links to all the web and social sites to the team listed below as well as numbers if applicable.)

Criteria:

Revenues generated as a direct result of social media.  Here’s why this is the most important factor in determining the winner. What do fans want most? A winning team. The best situation would be a championship team. And the factor that determines whether or not a team is of contending status or not is their ability to financially attract and retain talent.  And for the purposes of this blog post, let’s see which Toronto sport’s team has reaped financial benefits.

Wait a sec:

Fan engagement and reach is important too.  In this day and age of instant communication, sports fans demand up to the second updates.  This is why athletes and media are heavy users of tools like Twitter. However, to measure the “return on investment” of social media engagement.

Also, understand that these are just my observations.  I have not interviewed anyone who works for the nominees even though I know them.  The purpose of this blog is to give my viewpoint and to spur some discussion.  I would love to hear your thoughts on who is “winning” the social media game.  On to the nominees!

The nominees:

Toronto Argonauts

Twitter: 4,696 Facebook: 2,727 YouTube: 253,697 upload views

The Argos website has share functions throughout. Furthermore, their Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels  are well populated with a fairly engaged online community.

Toronto Maple Leafs

LeafSpaceMonika: 8,713 Twitter: 48,642 Facebook: 378,572

Their Leafspace.com fan-focused site drives both fan engagement and revenues via advertising and ticket and merch sales.  The Leafs also have a huge following on both Twitter and Facebook.

Toronto Blue Jays

Social Media Clubhouse, Twitter:  32,210 Facebook: 249,397

A very busy website where the social media properties are hard to find. While we did see the BlackBerry sponsored Tweeting Tuesday’s ad, we had to scroll down to the bottom to see the Twitter and Facebook links. The BlueJays also have a very popular Facebook and Twitter following with a highly engaged audience.

Toronto Raptors

Twitter: 30,697 Facebook: 204,592

Piggy-backing off their Maple Leafs cousins, the Raps have done an amazing job with their Raptorspace fan site as well as with their Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Winner:

This is a hard one.  I’ll be honest tough. Before I even started to write this I had the Blue Jays picked as the winner. Why? They had actually obtained a sponsor as a result of their Tweeting Tuesday’s initiative – BlackBerry. The Blue Jays are improving in how they communicate and engage with their fans via social media. And last year they not only obtained a sponsor for one of their social media properties, their parent company (Rogers) has done a great job by looping in all their media properties. Listen or watch a game and there will be mention of “following” or “friending” the Blue Jays. But…

The Leafs are the perennial favourites here in Toronto. Yet picking them would be too easy and lazy.  However, after some surface research, I have to announce the winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs have  done an amazing job interacting and engaging with their fans on Facebook and Twitter.  They (as well as the Raptors) have also created a fun and interactive fan site called Leafspace. And when it comes to monetization they have conquered that too. A cursory glance at their website shows corporate ads on their fan areas. And they also held a Facebook competition  which was sponsored by a corporate sponsor.

Congrats Toronto Maple Leafs! And a HUGE thumbs up to the Toronto Blue Jays for doing a kick ass job in a relatively short period of time (and for inspiring this blog post!).

Mediazoic: the birth of a new era in music and media

This post was originally posted on XConnectTO.

Another reason to attend April 7th’s FashionConnectTO:

You will probably see Toronto’s “next big thing.” How can we say that? You need to look no further than our last event, MusicConnectTO.

mediazoic

One of the panelists at MusicConnectTO was Greg Nisbet of Mediazoic. Mediazoic is simply a network of internet radio stations. Mediazoic makes the software which allows you and I to create, customize, & dj our own radio station…or stations.

Next Thursday, March 31st, Mediazoic goes live! And we couldn’t be more excited or happy for our friends!
Of course, all of you are invited. Here are the details:

At 9pm, on March 31st, Toronto’s Revival will play host to celebrate Mediazoic’s launch and to host Mediazoic’s own awards show – The Zoics – all live-streamed to the Internet.

Currently broadcasting in private beta, Mediazoic is counting down to midnight (April 1, 2011) when it goes live to the public.

For only $10 at the door, you can be part of this historic evening. The Zoics feature awards for categories like Coolest Hat and Sexiest Guitar, presented by local music scene notables. All bands receiving a Zoic will also be playing live.

And in the spirit of new and social media, Mediazoic has a couple of cool things for everyone to participate in:

  • Have a cool idea for an award category? Let us know by posting on this event’s Wall, and if yours is chosen, you’ll win free admission!
  • Can’t afford the $10 admission price? Enter our VIP Streamer Contest: http://mediazoic.com/vip/

Register for the Mediazoic launch on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=172752949441589

Enter the VIP Streamer Pass Contest: http://mediazoic.com/vip/

And, of course, don’t forget to check out FashionConnectTO and to register!

MusicConnectTo Wrap Up from XConnectTO on Vimeo.

build it

…and they will come.  Remember the line from Field of Dreams?  In the movie, Kevin Costner’s character builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield.  Why?  Well, I don’t want to spoil the movie (you still haven’t seen it?!) but he believes that baseball players will come to play on his diamond.  He just has to build it. 

It’s something the Toronto Blue Jays have been trying to do since the lockout in 1994/5.

I must give them credit.  They’ve tried almost everything.

Flashback Fridays, All You Can Eat campaigns, 80s night, Tweeting Tuesdays, new field turf, setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts and filling it with content, Jr. Jays games on Saturdays, Father’s Day camp-outs, School Day deals in the summer, Flex Packs, $100 season tickets, signing free agents, season ticket holder gatherings, and I could go on and on.  But you get the point.

Before I continue let me address one point.  Winning won’t solve this.  Here’s why:  Winning will only happen AFTER people become fans who attend games.  It is clear Rogers will only fund the Jays payroll to a level in direct proportion to the revenues generated from ticket sales.  So, let’s move onto getting asses (sorry I swore Mom) into seats.

ENGAGE IRL.

Engage In Real Life.  It’s the key (at least a BIG key) to social media and modern marketing today.  Especially when we talk about live sporting events.  And don’t just engage with anyone.  It’s important to reach out to all your fans.  Young and old.  But I would also suggest focusing on engaging the INFLUENCERS.

Influencers are the people who will get the people to come to the park.  They are the big mouths, the party hosts.  They are the one’s that can mobilize a movement.  Malcolm Gladwell talks about connectors, mavens and persuaders.  Influencers are a combination of all three.

Influencers can connect people; they can share with people; and they are charismatic.

It’s not about the technology alone.  Things like Tweet Ups, Meet Ups, and other social media events are popular and the place to be NOT because of Twitter, Facebook, etc.  They are popular because people are engaged WITH each other on a personal level and not just on a pixel level.

We are not living in a technological age.  We are living in a social age. Time to stop hiding behind Jays Care, @BlueJays and the corporate desk. Let’s get social.

So, Mr. Blue Jays, get in contact with these “community leaders” and let them work with you.  They are great at listening to people and mobilizing them.  They, and everyone else, wants the Toronto Blue Jays to succeed at the gate and in the standings.

They may not be able to fill a roster but they will make sure that the blue seats don’t out-number the Blue fans.

**My next blog post will illustrate what the most popular professional sports team in Canada is doing to engage with its community despite being the hardest ticket to get in town.**

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree? Do you think my idea is something out of left field? Feel free to comment below.