Stealth NFL in Canada promotion

While everyone’s attention is focused on the Olympics in Sochi Russia, our friends who would rather have American football in Canada than have Canadian football in Canada are at it again.

Here is a promotion to fill out a survey that was sent to a Toronto-based friend of mine.  You’ll note the focus of the survey is trying to find support for the idea of the NFL in Toronto, as if Toronto was not part of Canada.   This survey does not want to know if sports fans in Quebec or Saskatchewan want to see the NFL in Canada.  They know the answer from those parts of the country would not be supportive of the goal of replacing three down football with four down football in Canada.

If anyone knows more about this survey, such as who commissioned it, please let me know.   All I know is what this cover letter says.  Not surprisingly the organizers of this survey did not send me an invitation to participate.  ;-)

Cheers,    Bob.

From: Custom Intercept Solutions
Sent: February-12-14 11:39 AM
Subject: Greater Toronto NFL Franchise and Stadium Survey
NOTE: This is a reminder email requesting your participation in an NFL franchise and stadium survey. If you have already completed the survey, please disregard this reminder and thank you for your participation.

Dear Greater Toronto Corporate Member:

We are writing to you as a valued member of the Greater Toronto corporate community seeking your feedback as we consider the potential of an NFL franchise and stadium in Greater Toronto.

CSL International, a sports facility planning and advisory firm located in Plano, Texas, is currently conducting a market study to determine the potential support for an NFL franchise and stadium in Greater Toronto.

As part of the study efforts, your participation in this survey is very important to us so that informed decisions can be made regarding a potential new stadium that will meet the needs and desires of the Greater Toronto community (survey instructions provided below).

Greater Toronto has served as the host of a number of NFL games since 2008, and continues to be at the forefront of potential relocation markets as the NFL considers a move towards a more globalized league. At this point no decisions have been made regarding the future of the NFL in Toronto. We are, however, actively assessing the potential of Greater Toronto to serve as the home of an NFL franchise and stadium, while paying particular attention to providing a unique and exciting experience for fans and the corporate community alike.

As an important member of the Greater Toronto corporate community, your opinion is valuable. Please click on the link below to access the Toronto NFL survey.



CSL International

Canada is Canadian Football.

I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.    But I’ve now spent the majority of my life in countries other than Canada.    Instead of becoming less Canadian this has made me more appreciative of things Canadian than any of the resident Canadians I know.  The best single example of what I know about Canada that many Canadians don’t seem to understand is Canadian Football.

·      The 101 year old Grey Cup Championship is the most watched sporting event in Canada year in, year out.

·      The oldest continuously operating North American “Football” (of any sort) club is the Canadian Hamilton Tiger-Cats, founded in 1869.   According to Wikipedia it is the 55th oldest football club anywhere, including Europe.

·      The typical CFL football game is watched by three to four times as many Canadians as watch any US football game.

·      Canadian high schools, colleges and junior football leagues are all played under Canadian Football’s three down rules.

So why is there even a debate on this topic?  Because of probably the second most Canadian cultural identifier - namely  Canada’s odd habit of undervaluing  our own culture.   So Canadian Football cannot be any good simply because it has been developed, is played, and is enjoyed by Canadians.   This sad instinct has major Canadian corporate leaders somehow thinking that because Canada’s Championship was played in Regina Saskatchewan it could not be world class.

But it is precisely that fully a quarter of the population of the capital of one of Canada’s 10 provinces came out for a Canadian Football game in sub-zero weather, and a third of the country tuned in on TV, that makes it world class.  

So why does this effort to bring the American sport of four down NFL football to Canada persist?  It is a direct result of this lack of appreciation of Canadian culture by Canadians that is to blame.  How else do you explain great Canadian leaders like Mr Paul Godfrey bragging about his failed thirty year crusade to bring the NFL to Toronto?

Or why would a great Canadian corporation like Rogers Communications Inc. spend millions promoting a US competitor over a more popular Canadian institution?  Particularly given that Rogers’ prospers thanks to  Canadian Government rules (CRTC regulations) that give it, as a Canadian supplier, great competitive advantages over foreign competitors.   The oddest bit is that Rogers’s own marketing folks know, but don’t tell their bosses that, outside of downtown Toronto no one likes Rogers’ using its clout to damage a Canadian institution we all love.

These folks are not less patriotic than you and me.   They care every bit  as much about the success of Canada and Canadians.     They are simply making the same mistake that millions of Canadians have made before them.   They simply see things as being more valuable, more worthwhile, or maybe just “cooler” if societies other than Canada’s also value these things.   

No Canadian musician is considered successful in Canada if they have not been successful in the United States.  It is the rare Canadian cultural icon who  becomes successful in Canada without foreign endorsement.

So how does the Canadian Football League prevent the NFL from wanting to put a NFL team in Canada?   The CFL has to do two things, first it must convince Canadian leaders such as  Mr Paul Godfrey and Canadian corporations such as Rogers, of the value of our hundred and fifty year old Canadian cultural institution.

And secondly we must partner with the National Football League in an organized and mutually profitable way.  It is already true that CFL coaches and general managers, whether Canadian or American have many friends among their counterparts in the NFL teams.   The CFL league office has more in common with the NFL league office (and vice versa) than they do with any other institution on the planet.   After all, the CFL and NFL are the only two “gridiron” football leagues.

The National Football league is a lot like the Canadian Football League, being a collection of teams who banded together to form an institution dedicated to their collective success.  Our leagues are among the most successful cooperatives in the history of business anywhere.   We have more incentive to cooperate with each other than any two businesses you could name.

The Canadian Football League is stronger than ever.  We are now able to do more to support athletic achievement in Canada, we are doing more to support the charities we all care about, and more to celebrate this great country.  I’m personally very proud to be a small cog, along with my free market capitalist colleagues, in the recent progress of our league in our contributions to Canada and Canadian culture.

Canada is Canadian Football.  And unlike Canadian Football which is well appreciated coast to coast across our remarkable country, Canadians need to learn to celebrate Canada and things Canadian, whether or not the rest of the world even notices.

A haberdasher of imported clothing…

When you get involved in trying to help your hometown football team, in my case the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, you get many questions.  

From gratitude for helping keep the team in business, to questions about when will the team win its next championship.   But the ones I never anticipated were questions about world trade and modern business economics, and: why aren’t the hats the team sells made in the town the team plays in, ie made in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada?

My initial reaction was you gotta be kidding me - doesn’t everyone know why people in China or Bangladesh need those low wage jobs more than we do?   But then the penny dropped - in a complex modern society we all specialize.  Some of us learn more about world trade than others, and some learn more about html5 Internet programming.  That doesn’t make one of us better or smarter than the other, just more knowledgeable about some things while others have greater expertise in other things.

Which is similar to a trade economics concept called “comparative advantage” but please look to the experts for a better explanation than I am able to provide here.

My ancestors used to make cotton textiles in Hamilton back in the first half of the last century.  Today the addresses of their cotton textile mills are condos and shopping malls and the cotton textiles are made in Mexico and India.  Wondering whatever happened to my great grandparents’ factory I have been forced to learn a thing or two about global trade, and here’s why most of the Tiger-Cats merchandise is made in lower cost locations:

The obvious answer is that a factory worker earns less in China.   But that misses the point.   The point is Canadians earn more.   The better question is why is the work of Canadians worth more to the world than the same amount of effort by a hard working factory worker in Bangladesh or China?

The answer is not that the Canadians do the work better - the answer is, on average, Canadians do more valuable work.  For example the Ticats’ sister company MRX,, employs a couple of dozen software engineers, architects, and customer service reps.   They have very high skilled jobs creating websites that educate and entertain millions of Canadians and Internet users around the world.   The websites built and maintained by MRX are accessible via the latest smartphones.  While none of those smartphones are made in North America the bulk of the value in those phones was created and stays in North America.

Blackberry or Apple will sell you a smart phone for a few hundred dollars.   Yet the cost of manufacturing that smart phone is only a few dozen dollars.   The reason for the difference is most of the cost of that smart phone is in the very high value (and well paid jobs) researching and designing those technologies.  When you buy an Apple Iphone the bulk of the money you pay goes to Silicon Valley California, not Taiwan or China.   Which is one of the reasons why California has an enviably high-standard of living and can afford world class universities of the standard of Stanford University. Where, on an unrelated note, Ticat #95, Brian Bulcke played his college football.  ;-)

Coming back to Tiger-Cat haberdashery - the worker who sews a Ticat hat, just sews one hat for one Canadian consumer.  Most of the cost (ie the value) in creating that hat is in the design and marketing of the hat, ie most of the value of creating the hat is produced and stays in Hamilton.  Only the part of the hat that the Chinese factory can do better than we can do (the sewing) is done in China.

So next time you put on your Ticat jersey or hat, or toss your CFL football in your backyard, take pride in the fact that most of the money you invested in your hat, jersey or football stays right here in Hamilton *and* take pride in the fact that you’ve also done your bit to help a developing world worker feed her family, or educate his kids.

And while you ponder this, be grateful you live in an economy that produces jetliners, advanced communications technologies, and sophisticated Internet solutions, and does not rely on low-paid jobs weaving cotton textiles or sewing hats for our standard of living.

A part of my extensive collection of Ticat hats.

A part of my extensive collection of Ticat hats.

New Stadium.

Becoming increasingly optimistic about the future of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club as the New Stadium rises on the site of the 1930’s Civic Stadium, and the 1950’s Ivor Wynne Stadium:

For those new to the story:   I got involved with my home town Canadian Football League team when it fell into bankruptcy in 2003.  After working hard at improving all aspects of the team, from fan experience to football personnel, resulting in significant improvements in revenue in all categories - we were still having challenges making the team work as a financially viable business.

So I took the time to sit down with a wide range of Hamilton Football historians from former league commissioners to former owners, including my 90 year old Uncle Bill, a member of the team’s board of directors in the 50’s and 60’s.  Only to learn the last time the team had earned a profit was some forty years earlier. 

Now, or to be specific: a year from now, with a new league Broadcast deal, and a very exciting new stadium,  the future financial stability of the team in Hamilton looks very bright.

I have discovered, in twenty years of moving around the ball park,
that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to
the price of the seats.

Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner

Irreconcilable differences…

Sometimes it’s no-one’s fault, things just didn’t work out.

Sadly, I have to announce today that I’m divorcing Twitter @bobyoung from @caretakerbob.   I tried to stay united for the sake of my sanity, but have finally come to terms with reality.

The interesting lesson here is while for many people a single twitter account can work despite their varied interests, for others those interests are so unrelated they become distractions for their followers.

Most of those who share my enthusiasm for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ( do not have as much interest in my passion for technology and the future of content (   While my friends who share my interest in the future of technology don’t generally care much for Canadian football,

So as of this afternoon, @caretakerbob will be exclusively focused on all things Canadian Football related, and @bobyoung will focus on technology, the future of content publishing on the Internet.

Of course this does not mean that I don’t have friends who share both interests and if you are one of them just follow both @bobyoung and @caretakerbob.

Cheers,   Bob.

(The timing of this divorce is being driven by tonight (June 13, ‘12) being the unofficial opening of the Canadian Football league season, with a 7pm pre-season game between the Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts, about which I will be tweeting sufficiently frequently my tech friends will be tempted to hit the un-follow button.)

Recorded last week at uPublishU, the day-long self-publishing pre-conference program of BookExpo. Featuring Jenny Pedroza, co-founder of the Writers Coffee Shop; Mark Coker, Founder, Smashwords; Sandra (Sandy) Poirier-Diaz, President, Smith Publicity, Incorporated; and Bob Young, CEO & Founder,

This panel’s industry insiders know how to ensure that a book will stand out in the dynamic world of self-publishing and they shared with CCC’s Chris Kenneally their insights on what every self-publisher needs to know about the secrets of the editing process; the art of cover design; the tricks of the publicity trade; and how to create and find winning sales ideas.

A great article on hiring the right people and nurturing their talents to create a passionate work culture that will last.

We’re number 1!

Ok, so it is a little early in the season to start celebrating, given the season does not start for another month and three weeks (but who is counting), but for the first time in a decade the bookies are taking the Tiger-Cats seriously: