Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Firstly, I firmly believe that players deserve what they are paid.    A tiny segment of athletes are so elite that fans will spend millions to watch them.     

In light of recent headlines, it has been hard not to be very impressed with Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK (Philanthropy King) Subban.      

PK has committed to donating $10 Million to the Montreal Children's Hospital.  This amount represents a significant portion of his annual salary, and obviously supports an amazing cause.  From my perspective, those who have taken exception to PK's perceived cockiness and flare should recognize that this gesture trumps all those issues. 

What is disappointing however, and what should be addressed, is how rare acts like these are.   Top level athletes may deserve their pay -- but they are still blessed.  And ultimately, giving something back to those less fortunate should be more encouraged within sports culture as a whole.

Families, coaches, and management often talk of developing people, not just players.  Certainly charities deserve greater attention as a crucial aspect of this development process.

The fact that stories such as Subban’s remain few and far between illustrates how this practice is regarded as the exception and not the rule.  It is surely time that it becomes the rule.    

Kudos to PK for being a leader off the ice.    Hopefully, others will follow his example.

 

Written by:

Cary Kaplan

President, Cosmos Sports

Friday, August 21, 2015

You would think that as players are paid more and more money, and professional athletes in major sports are multi-millionaires, that they would be more accessible to the fans.

Unfortunately, such is the opposite.

Professional athletes do endorsements and sponsorship for fees - their agents insist on it.    This, I can accept to some degree.   Companies are businesses, and if Gillette wants Derek Jeter or Under Armour wants Jordan Speith, they should pay for it, and have millions of dollars to do so.

But what about the retail clerk? Or the garbage collector? Or the bookkeeper? All of whom work very hard every day, and escape to watch their favourite teams and their favourite players.      

They ask for little.  They want (a) A competitive team (b) An honest effort and (c) Access.

For the purposes here, it is part (c) that I want to address.

Most players, often multi-millionaires, look at community relations as a necessary evil.  "I have to do 5 appearances", "I am required to do hospital visits”.  Shameful.

This is a privilege.   Players should be knocking down doors, insisting on more interaction with fans, as well as participating in more charitable causes and community events.

Owners, general managers and coaches often talk about developing not just good players, but good people. Yet, they are the first ones to say: guys cant go to events on game day, before game day, on a practice day, while they are injured, when its an "off day" etc….  Absurd.

The fact that hundreds, if not thousands of people look up to you, want your picture or autograph, and are willing to line up for hours to meet you is amazing.   It is unique, it is special, it is rare, it is exceptional.

Players get confused,   They don't work for coaches, they report to coaches.    They don't work for General Managers, they were hired by General Managers.     They don't work for owners, they are paid by Owners.

They work for fans.   Without fans, there are no coaches, no general managers, no owners and no players.   There is no money, and in turn, no team.

Players are heroes, to children and adults alike who admire their athleticism, their intensity, their commitment.   

To be a true hero, I would admire a player who stood at a press conference and said: “One thing I really enjoy is spending time with the fans. The more I can do it, the better.”   That player would live up to the hero billing.

What is your favourite part of playing _______________?      Some say winning.   Some say my teammates.    Some say playing a game I love.    Why does nobody say the fans?  

I love the fans, I love that thousands of people cheer when I do something good.   How few people are cheered for a great day of work?   That is my favourite thing about being an athlete...the fans.      

I'd like to hear the player that says that and not because his agent, or manager told him to do so.  But because he means it.

I’d like to be at the press conference.   That player would be my hero.

 


Cosmos President Comments on Raptors & Drake

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This past Monday, on the final day of the 2015 OVO Music Festival, Toronto Raptors Global Ambassador and Canadian music icon Drake, took to the stage outfitted in the Raptors’ new gold and black third jersey.  This unexpected unveiling of the team’s alternate jersey was the first of four uniform revamps revealed to the public on Monday.  However, the other three were simply unveiled later that night via news release, with little fanfare. 

While the response from the public up to this point has not been overwhelmingly negative, there is still a sufficiently large contingent of fans and observers who have indicated how underwhelming the whole marketing opportunity was. 

In the aftermath of the reveal, the Toronto Star delved further into the story, seeking to question why this unveiling was approached in the way that it was.  In an effort to answer this question the Star called upon several top sports and marketing professionals from across Toronto to provide their perspectives. 

Providing his views on both the unveiling and subsequent reactions, Cosmos President Cary Kaplan had the following to say: “while unorthodox, it could create hype amongst a key contingent of fans the team wanted to focus on by aligning with Drake in the first place.” 

In addition, Cary also had this to say about those who were inherently underwhelmed with the entire presentation: “I think the way they unveiled it is actually more interesting that the jerseys themselves.  And maybe that’s part of it.  When you have something that’s not going to blow anybody away, maybe you want to do it a bit differently.”

To read the article in full, please visit: http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2015/08/04/drake-unveils-new-raptors-jersey-at-ovo-fest.html

For more information about Cosmos Sports and its services, please call: (905) 564-4660. 

 

 

JUST DO IT.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nike is on the front of NBA jerseys, and this is being heralded as a landmark step for sponsorship.

Sounds familiar.

I am old enough to remember when hockey boards had no signs. It would distract players and fans would hate it. It would ruin the game.

Hockey is fine.

I remember when baseball fences about 10 years ago were viewed as sacred. Batters couldn't focus, fielders couldn't catch. It will ruin the game.

Baseball is fine.

I remember when golfers would not wear sponsors' names on their hats. Too tacky, not classy. Golfers wouldn't tolerate it. Fans would protest.

Golf is fine.

I remember when CFL football fields were all green, no signage on them. It wasn't pure. Quarterbacks would lose their targets, receivers couldn't catch the line of the ball, fans would protest.

Football is fine.

I remember (actually I don't) but it was once the case where the front of soccer jerseys had the name of the team, not the name of a corporation. Too big, too corporate, too overwhelming. Players would hate it. Fans would riot.

Soccer is fine

Nascar wins on this one. Drivers have always been sponsored, cars and drivers blanketed in logos for decades and decades. Tide, Go Daddy, McDonald's. Drivers and fans seem happy.

Nascar is fine.

I won't even get into the New York Red Bulls!  

It's all good.  Nike on jerseys is another small step in the ultimate linkage between corporate and sports.

And for those fans who call themselves purists, your ship sailed not long after Columbus'…who, by the way, was sponsored by Queen Isabella! If you don't believe me, look it up. And while you’re at it, remember, your Google search is also sponsored.

You'll be fine.   

 

 

 

 Integrity Police on the Rise

Monday, June 8, 2015: Yes privacy is being eroded everywhere, and it is harder and harder to stay 'off the grid'. While there are some clear positives (security) and some clear negatives (freedom) -- the positive that I like is Integrity.

FIFA has been corrupt for decades - maybe since it's inception. Power which is unparalleled in the sports world is bound to create bribery, fraud and cheating - and not surprisingly it has. Nothing new here.

But in 2015 in the age of Wikileaks and Police beatings caught on video, criminals are having a harder time hiding.

While the FBI used an old-school informant here -- the ability to effectively monitor and utilize technology - makes traditional crimes harder to hide.

No hockey player ever left the Stanley Cup to play in the International Championships, Basketball and Baseball fight to get even 50 percent of pro players to enter their tournaments and the NFL seems content for the sport of Football to remain a one country phenomenon. 

But In Soccer, FIFA is all powerful.   All leagues, all players, coaches and referees are sanctioned by and governed by FIFA.   As president of the Canadian Soccer League (2005-2009) I learned quickly that alll roads lead to FIFA - and without their blessing or governance, league operation is rendered virtually impossible.

So the perfect storm of massive power over the sport that dominates the world - is corrupt. In 2015, the 'good guys' caught up.

And I would suggest this is the wave of the future. The start not the end.    

Is Boxing not corrupt? Do Football players use steroids? Have Horse owners been paid off not to win? Are referees in various sports not paid to make certain calls?  

Not sure what is true or not.   But if you are taking bribes, throwing matches, betting when you should not, taking banned substances -- the Integrity Police are watching.

On balance, while it compromises some freedom -- I think it says something good about society - that fairness in sports still means something.

"May the best person win with no unfair advantages" is a noble pursuit and central to sports.   

Honesty remains the best policy.

 

Written by:

Cary Kaplan

President, Cosmos Sports