Sportsnet Personalities Banned From Homestand Sports Events

Earlier this week, I had Cam Gordon from Twitter Canada in my basement and we were talking about a recent PItch Talks event that ended early when Kelly Gruber soured the room. Cam was there, and we got to talking about these events from Homestand Sports. In addition to Pitch Talks there's Puck Talks and Hoop Talks. Here's a trailer from Homestand Sports.

In that trailer, you'll see many Sportsnet personalities. I saw Stephen Brunt, Sid Seixeiro, John Shannon and Elliotte Friedman. In the recent event with the Kelly Gruber controversy, there was an appearance by Dan Shulman and Kevin Barker. Sportsnet personalities are all over these events.

Yesterday, Homestand Sports gave notice that Sportsnet personalities will no longer be permitted to appear at their events. Here's that update.

To the entire Homestand Sports family:

We have recently learned that we will no longer have Sportsnet personalities appearing on our shows. It has been a real pleasure working with all of these talented people.

Though this does not disrupt our programming, it has inspired thoughts about what Homestand is about. From the beginning, our events have been focused on sports fans and making them a priority. We realized that fans want to be more involved in conversations around their favourite sports, teams, and players. Thus, the Talks were born. Our events have created a way for fans to connect with sports media personnel, industry professionals, as well as past and present athletes. We love hearing stories about those who travel from far distances to attend these events, how they heard about it, who they came with; and we love seeing the fans interact with each other.

In addition to the above, we see our events as an alternative to traditional sports media. Currently, most major sports channels and shows are owned and operated by sizable corporations, some of which are not companies with sports as a sole focus. Fans deserve a variety of media to choose from in order to get the full picture and be exposed to different views and opinions. We look forward to continuing to serve fans in this way as we develop our live shows and other content.

We absolutely loved having Sportsnet personalities on our shows for many reasons. One of the main reasons is our feeling that combining talent from Sportsnet with talent from other media outlets created a diverse experience for fans. Though we will continue to create this environment, we do consider this a loss for sports fans.

We would like to sincerely thank the team of Sportsnet talent who have shared their insights at our live events over the years. The memories that have been created will never be forgotten by us or the fans.

The Talks series will continue as usual, and the Sportsnet team will always be welcome. Stay tuned for exciting new programming coming THIS FALL!

Kevin Kennedy
Founder, Homestand Sports

I've found this development particularly interesting, because in many ways, these talks are cut from the same cloth as my podcast. The first line in the trailer above comes from Mike Zeisberger (note to self: invite Mike on Toronto Mike'd) and his words could apply to Toronto Mike'd. He says "you come to this and it is pretty much as informal as being in somebody's basement talking about the sport we all love".

The beauty of Toronto Mike'd is that it's 100% independent. In any given week there could be a guest from Sportsnet, TSN, CBC, Corus, the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun or an independent. From Sportsnet I've enjoyed brilliant conversations with Ron MacLean, Stephen Brunt, Dan Shulman, Arash Madani, Elliotte Friedman, Tara Slone, Damien Cox, Hazel Mae, Eric Smith, Brad Fay, Chris Johnston, Caroline Cameron, Jeff Marek, Andrew Walker, Carly Agro, Faizal Khamisa, Mike Wilner, Greg Brady, Elliott Price, Steve Dangle, Hugh Burrill... you get the idea. Of course, I didn't sell tickets for people to hear these discussions, and maybe that's the kicker.

I don't know for certain why Rogers decided to prevent their talent from appearing at these events, but I would hypothesize that they're going to launch their own such events and Homestand Sports would be deemed the competition. Again, just an educated guess on my part, but that makes the most sense.

We'll see what the future holds. I'm keeping my good eye on this one...

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Sob!! Why can't we all just get along and play fair/nice with one another? (And this doesn't even
affect or really interest me in the slightest, but I feel awkward for the fans and those sports media
personalities now being excluded.) Perhaps a round-robin, charity re-recording of "Ebony and
Ivory" can help alleviate some of the ill-will?!? Just a random, free-flowing thought!

June 21, 2018 @ 10:12 AM


My first thoughts when reading this post was that it is in direct response to Kelly Gruber's comments. Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from verbal and physical harm. The way I see it, is that Rogers is essentially saying to Homestand, "You didn't do enough to stop this from happening nor did you act quickly enough when it did happen." In today's world, all it takes is 1 incident to completely change everything. Employers are preferring to overreact than being accused of under-reacting or not doing anything at all.

My friend works for an employer who has instituted a policy that says asking a fellow employee out or offering them your phone number more than once (and it being rejected) could constitute sexual harassment and therefore subject to discipline. The employer says that an employee doesn't have to outright say no to one's advances. In the employer's eyes, being brushed off or being told "Maybe next time" should be constituted as "no" and if you ask somebody again and they brush you off and report you, a sexual harassment investigation will be launched and that person could be suspended during the investigation.

June 21, 2018 @ 10:20 AM


Well, that's interesting. I haven't paid much attention to Pitch Talks for a while, but they used to lean very heavily on Sportsnet talent. For a while, Pitch Talks received a lot of criticism for being a parade of white males, and that flaw was a result of their preference for people they'd apparently heard on Prime Time Sports, which has never been noted for its diversity.

Pitch Talks took steps to address this, and that's when I noticed them also pulling in more talent from other outlets. Still, though, they seemed to be very keen on Sportsnet talent … which, I suppose, makes some sense, given that Pitch Talks is about baseball, but particularly the Blue Jays, and the big fish of Blue Jays coverage are mostly with Sportsnet. And so … well, they're now going to have to figure out how to hold these events without those big fish. It'll be interesting to see if attendance suffers.

June 21, 2018 @ 1:18 PM

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