The Upper Canadien
by The Upper Canadien on 05/09/11 at 07:43 PM ET
As regular readers know, I am in finance by day, have a business background, and occasionally write about the business of hockey. Today, Uptown Sports Management, a well known agency for professional athletes, made a very odd and controversial decision, involving the relatively new medium of Twitter.
They opted to Tweet their disapproval of gay marriage:
uptownhockey Uptown Sports
Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.
Uptown Sports Management on Twitter
Now, personal feelings aside, in today’s day and age, it seems awfully strange, and blatantly offensive, for a business to express its disapproval of how adults conduct themselves within their private relationships. Like it or not, that’s what a public pronouncement on gay marriage does. It reflects as a condemnation of the entire community. That’s why smart companies never issue public displays of opinion on issues like religion, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. It is simply asking for a controversy.
And that’s what Uptown Sports Management has on its hands. Talk about a public relations disaster.
This all seems stranger still given the context. As anyone familiar with hockey knows, Brian Burke has been on a personal quest since the death of his young son, Brendan, to fight for equality in the hockey world. It has been very publicized, and a very emotional and personal journey for Burke. He’s on the record as being on a quest to achieve equality in hockey for people of all sexual orientations. There have been recent CBC specials, HNIC coverage. It’s topical. This is not an area any business should be venturing into.
Such a statement also makes one wonder about opinions that no company wants people wondering about: what is Uptown’s view of minorities playing hockey now? How about women in the hockey world? Again, like it or not, that’s what issuing a public statement like this does to any firm of prominence. Public judgements of groups of people, generally, are not a good place for a business to go.
Uptown Sports Management has made a key error. They’ve allowed personal opinion to interfere with their business. This would never happen with a company like Tim Hortons, RBC, McDonald’s, or Bauer. And it wouldn’t happen with competitors, like Newport Sports. It seems illogical a business full of lawyers would do this. If I were a hockey player, would I want a firm like Uptown representing me after making such a strategic error?
I’m curious to follow this along. Will Uptown apologize? Will a junior staff member be blamed for the Tweet? Regardless, this is just another example of how in today’s digital age a simple decision can have a lasting effect. For a company charged with managing the careers of sports professionals, Uptown Sports just made a blatant error. If they were looking after my legal and financial well-being, I would definitely be at least considering new representation.
Oh, and to close: there should be equality in hockey, and everywhere. I’m not afraid to say it. Religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation - it’s 2011. This stuff is archaic. Come on Uptown, why have you gotta spoil a perfectly good playoff day for everyone?
Todd Reynolds of Uptown Sports Management took to the airwaves of 1050 TSN Radio in Toronto just before 7 pm Monday to defend his views on gay marriage, as he was the member of Uptown tweeting from the account. Reynolds was interview by James Cybulski and Bruce Arthur, who were clear in their questioning that they did not support his comments and felt that they could easily be interpreted as inappropriate. One very well phrased question was, “Why does gay marriage hurt your marriage or anybody else’s marriage?” I’m genuinely impressed by the lines of questioning that came through in the interview. Well done on TSN Radio’s part.
Reynolds mentioned numerous times that he was unfairly being called a bigot, and took pains to present himself as neither a bigot nor a person who does not support the rights of the gay community. He said he was very disappointed in being labelled homophobic and intolerant by pundits and the public alike online. However, Reynolds made several controversial remarks, regarding topics such as the benefits of having one father and one mother, and perhaps most contentiously he stated that, “I’m for equal rights. I just think when it comes to marriage, there’s another way to do it.” Which many online are rightfully interpreting as being for equal rights, except when it comes to gays and marriage.
So there you have it. Any way you look at it, not a good day for the public relations business at Uptown Hockey. And once again, unbelievable that any reasonably intelligent person, let alone a lawyer, could make such a blatantly discriminatory and controversial remark on behalf of a company.
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The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.
I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.
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