The hypocrisy behind Beeston's argument to the Senate

Nov 20, 2012 |
The hypocrisy behind Beeston's argument to the Senate
Paul Beeston's argument doesn't add up.
Paul Beeston's argument doesn't add up.
Paul Beeston, president and CEO of the Blue Jays, is the biggest designated hitter for MLB when it comes to arguing against single game wagering in Canada. The hypocritical problem with that is, Rogers - the company he works for - makes a lot of money off sports betting advertisements through its national sports broadcasting entity, Sportsnet.

Really Mr. Beeston?

Paul Beeston is the President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. He has held that position since 2008 and this is his second go-round in the Jays organization.

His first tenure saw Beeston craft a team that won two World Series titles back in the mid 90s. Major League Baseball was so impressed they gave him the No. 2 job behind Bud Selig from 1997 to 2002.

Mr. Beeston is an icon in Canadian sports. He entered the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame in 2002 and even received the Order of Canada - the highest honor that can be bestowed on a Canadian citizen. He also holds one of the most prestigious jobs in baseball, sitting on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, and he just pulled off one of the biggest trades in memory with the Miami Marlins. (The Jays went from 100-1 to 15-1 to win the World Series at some sportsbooks.)

So you can understand the star power Mr. Beeston wielded when he addressed the Canadian Senate on Oct. 24th and told a Senate Committee: “High-rollers have high incentives to induce players to fix games or to shave runs or points. Losing bettors, or fans in general, may become suspicious of every strikeout or error, and the game’s integrity will be open to question, play-by-play, any given day.” 

Mr. Beeston was talking about Bill C-290, a unanimously approved bill allowing single event wagering that is awaiting the rubber stamp from the unelected group of Senators. The problem is, the rubber stamp is in doubt. There is talk the Senate may vote down this bill, which would mark the first time in Canada's 145-year history that the Senate refused to pass a bill unanimously passed in the House of Commons.

Where is the evidence of Mr. Beeston's claims, you ask? He admitted he didn't have any, yet he maintained the single-game wagering law would create more problem gamblers and lead to an increase in gambling addiction, not to mention it would threaten the very existence of baseball.

Senators must have felt as though the elected Members of Parliament were trying to pull a fast one on them. How dare they threaten baseball? How dare they threaten the integrity of a national hero, Sir Paul Beeston?

The truth is, senators, you have been duped. But not by the MPs in the House of Commons. You’re being snowed by big media and big sports.

This is the real story.

Mr. Beeston is part of the Canadian Rogers Communications empire, a $25 billion dollar corporate giant, broken into divisions of wireless, cable and media. The Toronto Blue Jays are part of the media division, which would include television, radio, magazines and other media products. The media division has revenues breaking down into:

Advertising: $838 million
Circulation: $303 million
Retail: $263 million
Toronto Blue Jays: $164 million
Other: $43 million

As you can see, the Jays are only 20 percent of the advertising revenue line of the media division.

Stay with me here.

One of the largest media assets for Rogers is the national broadcast entity, Sportsnet. It would be similar to Fox Sports in the US - a sports media company that has television channels, programming and digital properties.The Sportsnet organization also reports directly into the media division.

The trouble is Mr. Beeston, Sportsnet has no problem with sports betting. They actually promote it. A few sports betting operations are significant advertisers. On you can actually see the odds of the Blue Jays game that evening. Not the parlay odds, but the single event odds you’re lobbying against.

The companies aren’t close you argue? C’mon, the majority of Sportsnet's live coverage is devoted to covering the Blue Jays. It's not even close to a stretch to say that between the months of May through August, Sportsnet is the Blue Jays. Jays players actually show up on Prime Time Sports surrounded by betting brands, which is the most popular radio show and one of the most popular TV shows on Sportsnet.

You have been a fixture on the show dozens of times yourself.

So you’re telling the Senate the apocalypse is around the corner if single event wagering is allowed, but it’s OK that your company - in fact your peers in the same division you work under - are heavily promoting that very activity?

Can you see things don't add up here? Can you see how normal, everyday people get so frustrated by large corporate institutions talking out both sides of their mouths?

Senators: don’t believe the hype. Believe in actions. And if Rogers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and Major League Baseball thought single event wagering was a real problem they wouldn’t be promoting it. It’s that simple.

Do the right things for citizens, not what big corporations are leveraging you to do based on hypocritical motives.