As the days get shorter and summer winds down, it’s a great time to add a new book or two to your reading list. Inspired by a post on the Canadian Sports Business Network Facebook group, here’s 3 sports business book recommendations that a) I have a read and b) have a Canadian connection – whether it be the author or the content.
Anchorboy – Jay Onrait
Jay just returned to TSN, so what better time to read his first book. In typical Jay fashion, Anchorboy features plenty of laughs and foolishness. But tomfoolery aside, it’s a worthwhile read for any sports business fanatic as Jay chronicles his rise to Canadian sports anchor fame and gives a behind-the-scenes look at working in the industry.
In 2015 (two years after Anchorboy), Jay released Number Two: The Short Tales from a Very Tall Man. I haven’t read the book (yet), but I’m told it contains tales from Jay and Dan’s move to LA. I was surprised when the duo announced they were returning to TSN, so I’m hoping Jay eventually does a third book to shed light on their Fox Sports show being cancelled, and the decision to return home.
Get a signed copy of Anchorboy!
Sign up to the Sports Business Canada mailing list before October 8th, 2017 and be entered to win a signed copy of Jay Onrait’s Anchorboy. Random draw will take place on October 10th, 2017.
Dream Job – Richard Peddie
On the heels of the Scotiabank Arena deal, Dream Job is another timely read. Peddie was at the helm of MLSE when Air Canada Centre opened its doors in 1999 and remained CEO of the organization until his retirement in 2011. I bought this book because of Peddie’s position at MLSE, but his Leafs/Raptors/Toronto FC days were just the tip of the iceberg as the book is packed with stories and lessons from throughout his impressive career – from Hostess and Pillsbury to SkyDome and NetStar (TSN).
For me, it was interesting to read about how Peddie successfully translated his business approach from consumer products to sports and entertainment, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters about leading SkyDome during its heyday. More than 1,000 events in 4 years! Like Jay, Richard released a second book in 2015 titled 21 Leadership Lessons: Successes, Failures, and Discoveries from a Life in Business and Sports that I’ve yet to read (you’re probably starting to see a trend…). That said, I don’t know what I’m waiting for, because if it’s like Dream Job, it will be well worth the read.
The Beckham Experiment – Grant Wahl
The Beckham Experiment follows the LA Galaxy after they signed David Beckham to a five-year contract in 2007. I read this book not long after it was released, and remember being just as fascinated by the social aspects of the Beckham Experiment as the soccer. Overnight, many of the Galaxy players went from no list to A list parties with the likes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Wahl also hinted at how out of touch Beckham was with the salary situation in MLS at the time. For instance, he would invite the team to expensive LA restaurants but leave without picking up the tab. Meanwhile, many of his teammates were working part-time gigs on the side just to make ends meet.
I was going to conclude with one of Jonah Keri’s (Canadian boy!) books but we’ll save those for a follow-up article. The reason I chose The Beckham Experiment is because I really want to re-read the book to reflect on how far MLS has come in a decade. For instance, since 2007, MLS has added 10 teams, including 3 in Canada (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and Vancouver Whitecaps). Also, Tim Lieweke, then President and CEO of AEG, owner of the LA Galaxy, was one of the people behind bringing David Beckham to North America and thus is featured throughout the book. Of course, Leiweke would later serve as CEO of MLSE where he spearheaded the BMO Field renovation and is arguably the reason why Toronto FC are as relevant and successful as they are right now.