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Bruce Dowbiggin

Embracing Tradeoffs To Finally Create Humane Covid Policy

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The flaw in the treatment of Covid-19 and its variants is the policy of perfection. “We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life,” Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, declared after he imposed a statewide COVID-19 lockdown last year.  The goal was to “save lives, period, whatever it costs.” 

An outbreak of COVID-19 on the New York Islanders has caused the hockey team to postpone its games through at least Tuesday. As many as eight team members will be unavailable to play because of NHL Covid-19 protocols. Earlier in November, the Ottawa Senators  postponed three games after players entered COVID-19 protocol.

Reports of the outbreak leave out just how sick the players are. If the press releases were more forthcoming they might show that almost all the affected players have mild or no symptoms— like a flu bug— but have ticked the unreliable PCR test for a minuscule trace of the virus. Or they have been in contact with a person who has caught the attention of the PCR auditors.

In previous pandemics these leagues employed no extraordinary measures and play went on normally as players who fell sick were quarantined. There were zero fatalities or long- term sicknesses from SARS, AIDS, H1N1, Hong Kong flu and other previous pandemic viruses. Leaving aside the unreliability of PCR tests the real question is why pro sports leagues continue the whack-a-mole policy of excessive testing.

Surely we have learned that early treatment and helping groups targeted by the virus and its variants is the best means of getting through the current crisis. Depending on which research you read, people in the demographic of the Sens and Islanders players are at as much risk from the vaccines as they are from the virus. Which is, negligible in both cases.

Making this worse has been the very spotty record from health authorities such as the WHO, CDC, Health Canada who took positions, reversed them, and, when challenged, got governments and Big Tech to censor their critics.  Even though other previous pandemic viruses still exist in the population the people in charge pretended that Covid-19 could be wiped away if the public would just adopt their stringent advice. (A position they’re now slowly withdrawing.)

For all the importance placed on the lockdowns/ masks/ distancing, no one in officialdom has yet been able to clearly articulate how they’ve stopped any of the worst aspects of Covid. Infections have followed traditional patterns and peaks. There’s no correlation between lockdowns and the lifespan of a virus. Yet the leagues remain in lockstep with corporations and government by using a test-and-trace standard developed in April 2020 that neither halts the virus nor protects athletes.

Driving government’s initial approach in Canada and the Western world has been Governor Cuomo’s  “every life is sacred” response— predicting that health officials and government technocrats could ultimately eliminate the virus entirely. This assumption— embraced by legacy media— justified the succession of draconian mandates on lockdowns, masks, distancing etc.

In doing so the zealots trampled the most sacred tenets of liberty and freedom in western culture. Locking up people in hotels, requiring small businesses to close while larger ones remain open, forcing people of all ages to take experimental drugs at the risk of their jobs, mandating masks and vaccines on 5-12 year olds… these were wartime measures.

Health® experts forgot the principle economist Thomas Sowell famously observed. “There are no solutions; there are only tradeoffs.” Using an absolutist approach politicians and their embedded media concentrated all their costly efforts on a vaccine. The collateral damage from their single-minded pursuit of vaccines doomed untold millions to addiction, suicide, delayed surgery and neglect.

Sowell’s principle on tradeoffs is the bedrock of a liberal democracy. We balance the options and choose the path that honours both freedom and collective action. One instance of how this works is in the manner in which we travel. Individuals are given the right to own whatever brand of car they like, drive any speed under the law, whenever they like, take whichever route they choose. They buy their choice of insurance to protect them against collisions with the inevitable reckless drivers in our midst.

We also understand that, under this compact, we accept tradeoffs. In 2020, 38,680 people died in motor-vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S. (In 2018 in Canada, there were 1,922 motor vehicle fatalities.) The state could reduce these statistics by reducing speeds, presumably to virtually nothing. But as citizens we see this government overreach as impractical.

Using the absolutist Covid standard on major highways, speeds would be reduced to 10 kilometres/ hour, cars would have governors to enforce speeds and government would tell you when and where you can drive. Absurd. With Covid, however, we have been told that smothering governance is justified, because every life is sacred. There will be no tradeoffs.

As we see the usual suspects gearing up for more overreach caused by a new variant, we may finally reach the breaking point for many citizens. They now see that, in the race for an ending to the virus, the balance between freedom and collective action must not be ignored again . They must say no to unreasonable measures. Whether they can resist the threats of the ruling class and its media partners will be telling.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Celebrity Owners– Fun, Yes, But The Equity Is Even Better

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In case you hadn’t noticed. Celebrity Sports Ownership is all the rage. When the Ottawa Senators were for sale Ryan Reynolds, Snoop and The Weeknd were all mentioned among the bidders (that eventually went to Montreal businessman Michael Andlauer). LeBron James now holds a minority position with Liverpool FC.

Jay-Z owns part of the Brooklyn Nets, Usher a piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers while Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame also partly owns the Miami Dolphins. Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Marc Anthony, and tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams are owners of pro sports teams. Famously, Elton John owned Watford FC, although he’s now just an honorary chairman.

And, of course, Reynolds and Rob McElhenney used a documentary TV series that showed their Welsh Wrexham soccer team promoted to the FA’s League Two. What’s the attraction?

Clearly a little PR is always a good thing. But sports team ownership has also become a lucrative equity play. As BMO reports, “The average compound annual growth rate since the last purchase price…  is 15 percent, a meaningful outperformance to the TSX and S&P.  Forbes estimates the Toronto Blue Jays are currently worth US$2.1 billion or roughly C$2.85 billion.

Based on recent sports franchise transactions, expansion fees and annual estimations of franchise values by Forbes Magazine, an $8 billion enterprise value is easily defendable for the Jays’ owners MLSE (who also own the Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and Argonauts).”

It’s the same across the major pro sports leagues. The estimated average franchise value in the NFL since 2013 is $5.1B with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 percent; in the NBA it is $2.9B with a CAGR of 18 percent. For MLB it is $2.3B with a CAGR of 12 percent; the NHL is $1.0B with a CAGR of 11 percent; while MLS is $0.6B with a CAGR 21%.

But, BMO cautions, owning a sports franchise is considered “an equity investment strategy rather than a cash flow or income play.” In other words, don’t think that ticket sales and hot dogs are going to make you rich. (Although the NHL’s salary cap, which guarantees owners’ profits is a sweet deal.) The key is sports media which is thriving despite the move to cord cutting..

Sports media rights contracts have grown in tandem with franchise valuations. Not to be ignored in the advertising growth and viewer interaction is the bear knowns as legalized sports betting. Betting companies are flooding the airwaves with commercials while bettors tune in to watch how their selections work out. The casinos and online shops have replaced lower-paying traditional advertisers who’ve dropped off.

In Canada, league or team ownership of broadcast properties is still common. For that reason the real value of those broadcast rights is often opaque. (We had some irritated pushback from Rogers and Bell for writing on this tidy arrangement in the mid 2010s, forcing some limited disclosures). Rogers Sportsnet and TSN own (via MLSE) own a stable of teams in MLB, NHL, CFL and MLS. Good luck finding out what they pay themselves for media rights.

It’s more open in the U.S. Since the New York Yankees pioneered the YES network in 2002— sparking multiple imitators in other markets—the move in the U.S. has been away from outright ownerships of regional sports networks. A number of RSNs in the U.S. are either in bankruptcy or nearing it. Digital and network sources are now absorbing these sources. ESPN, via its owner Disney, is looking to find partners for its many broadcast properties as their bottom line in general has suffered.

Still, ESPN’s legacy business generates revenue and operating income of approximately $12.5 billion and $4.0 billion in 2023. It remains to be seen what new model emerges in the U.S. to answer cord cutting and the death of conventional TV. The NFL’s experiment on Monday, having two MNF games compete on separate networks is one experiment.

In Canada’s monopolistic market, “TSN/RDS penetration rates have declined at a quicker pace than ESPN over the past 10 years. ESPN penetration has dropped from 81 percent of U.S. households in 2013 to 56 percent in 2022, while TSN/RDS penetration has decreased from 89% of Canadian households in 2013 to 49 percent in 2022.

In addition, BMO admits that cord cutting is a thing. “SportsNet subscribers have decreased -23 percent to 5.8 million over the same period. Subscriber and advertising revenues are 60 percent and 40 percent of total revenue, respectively. Since 2017, TSN revenues have increased 13 percent. TSN subscribers have decreased -29 percent to ~7.8 million over the same period.”

But! In the last five years, TSN and SN have increased advertising revenues by 13 percent and 15 percent respectively. The same figure for the top five Canadian non-sports channels (collectively) is six percent. Thank you legalized wagering in Ontario. So who wouldn’t want a piece of this action, especially in Canada?

The red flag in this surging equity market comes in the form of smaller Canadian NHL markets. The Senators sale for $950 suggests a healthy interest in owning, but the Sens sale was also tied into the new LeBreton Flats arena. Ownership or control of a Canadian arena means more than NHL games. It also includes revenue from concerts, rallies, monster-truck events etc.

Even with that can Andlauer produce a winner just two hours from the Montreal Canadiens market? Likewise, the Winnipeg Jets are desperately in need of a larger arena to replace the 15,321 Canada Life Centre. Having Canada’s richest man, David Thomson, as an owner is no guarantee of getting one. And should Thomson tire of being the saviour of a losing Jets hockey property, who in that market has C$1-2B lying around needed to fund the franchise properly?

Likewise, the Calgary Flames. Despite the political press conference this summer about as new agreement the arena that management promised by 2013 has still not seen a shovelful of dirt turned over. The latest gaffe was architect’s drawings for the rink being rejected by the NHL due to inadequate dressing-room space. Start again.

Should the rink not be available till 2025-26 will an evolving ownership group still be interested in shelling out the money to keep the Flames (and Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen) operating in Calgary? And if they don’t, because losing sucks? While energy-rich Calgary has plenty of billionaires, few will want to risk the money needed to keep a competitive team in a small market.

Connor McDavid’s brilliance plasters over the same small-market crack in Edmonton. Yes, they have their new building, but can owner Darryl Katz fund the moves need to keep his stars and build a winner? Vancouver, owned by the Aqulini family, has a larger market base, but with Seattle Kraken just two hours away can they too write the cheques needed to create the first Stanley Cup winner since the Canucks entered the NHL in 1970.

If these Canadian markets do survive longterm it might have to be with foreign ownership. Certainly there is money to be made riding the equity train. But there also no guarantees that those carpetbagger owners might replicate the Montreal Expos and scoot to richer markets.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5


Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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Bruce Dowbiggin

If You Don’t Hear From Me, It’s Because I Don’t Hear From You.

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In his memoir, former BMO CEO Tony Comper recalled the press conference to announce a merger between two Japanese automobile corporations. Everything was going swimmingly until someone at the presser asked how long would it be before the two corporate cultures fully merged?

One of the CEOs replied without hesitation. “Forty-three years.”

Forty-three years? Why forty-three years? he was asked.

“Because that’s how long it will be until the executives who made this deal are all dead.”

Yes, there are stubborn business cultures. But there are also political cultures that persist against all efforts to convince them they are deluded. People find it hard to change their ways— particularly when they’ve defended them publicly for years. The New Left’s ironclad resistance to reason and debate is a feature, not a glitch. How to reach them in a friendly, inclusive manner?

Good luck. The Right’s challenge is thinking these people will respond to shame or being corrected. Can’t be done. Won’t be done. They’re like Japanese soldiers fighting WW II on a deserted island 25 years after armistice. They’ll die repeating the Donald Trump Bleach meme to themselves.

Marines help a Japanese soldier from a dugout on Tinian Island during the Fall of Tinian in World War II. He holds a cigarette the Leathernecks used to coax him out. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

This Gallup poll sheds light on how American (and Canadian) cultures can be blissfully unaware of some huge stories and obsessed by other narratives that fit their mindset. It shows that from 1972-2022 that GOP trust of media has plummeted from 41 percent to under 10 percent, while independents have gone from 53 percent to under 36 percent trust. IOW, their former favourite news sources don’t jive with their everyday reality.

But Democrats in the poll have vaulted from 64 percent to 76 percent in trust of media. Why? One reason probably lies with being told the narratives that please them. That give them comfort. These consumers allow legacy media’s fact checkers to sort out what they should know from “disinformation” without getting their hands dirty with the original story.

How pervasive was the scrubbing? The recent Missouri v. Biden recognized that federal government officials had been interfering with social media companies that digressed from the “accepted” line. An appeals court ordered them to stop. In another case, FBI was bribing reporters and scientists to change their opinions on the origin of the Covid-19 virus, sanitizing stories before they are doled out to the Woke.

“The Science” is supposed to be an ongoing vigorous debate with few settled laws. Yet, most cult scientists refuse debate, preferring to dismiss opponents as conspiracy nuts or— as they did with vaccines— dangers to society. When Al Gore allows himself to be cornered by questions, he rolls his eyes, sighs theatrically and asks his followers how anyone could deny The Science.

Gore’s climate apocalypse culture has morphed within a generation from the few fighting pollution to a global dogma of CO2 poisoning nature . Attempts to talk sense on carbon emission obsession, plastics prohibitions, aversion to the nuclear option, Greta Thunberg beatification have all proven futile in the face of an End Oil Now cult that makes Scientology look like the Boy Scouts.

It was the same for the #RussiaHoax, #FinePeopleHoax, #BleachHoax and now Hillary Clinton’s “real war on truth, facts, and reason”. These liberal road-tested canards persists to this day. Here’s Biden on a rare cogent day this summer repeating the #FinePeople hoax that has been debunked years before. Even the Washington Post has had enough, listing Biden’s Top 100 fabulist claims since becoming POTUS.

The latest cult cleansing is Biden’s patently false denial of any contact with son Hunter Biden’s Shakedown scheme. The denial is awarded first position beside #climateemergency on search engines and nightly newscasts. Famously, 51 former security directors and officials claimed, without evidence, that Hunter’s infamous laptop was Russian disinformation. Case closed, said MSNBC. No wonder so many consumers of legacy media in this echo chamber can blithely claim there is no substance to any of the Hunter stories documented by the competition and chronicled on his own hard drive.

The Canadian equivalent of denial culture came with the magic “cure-all” vaccines. Rather than publicly confront the Truckers Convoy on their refusal to take Covid-19 vaccines (which are now accepted as being flawed ), Trudeau hid in the Rideau Cottage calling truckers “an insult to science”. To make sure they never got a chance to question him he sent the cops after them, arrested them, suspended their civil liberties and finances and subjected them to show trials.

And he was supported by the purchased Canadian media who vilified the protesters— for lack of armed insurrection or rioting— for staying too long in their protest. Many promoted false stories of arson and foreign financing of the convoy. This media Trudeau then tried to reward with Bill C-18— designed to make Meta, Google and other large tech sources pay to prop up failing Canadian media. In response, Meta has blocked all news links in Canada and cancelled existing deals with Canadian news outlets. The blocked links cover both Canadian and foreign news in light of Bill C-18.

And the same newspaper lobby that largely gave him a free pass on declaring a national emergency now wants the $595 million “temporary” bailout to be extended with double the subsidies (seeking government tax credits equal to 35% of labour costs.) The bailout meant to aid transition to digital is now instead a Trudeau lifeline in the Toronto Star’s bankruptcy. In the meantime, writes Michael Geist, “investment in the publishing sector has ground to a halt, Canadians have lost access to news on social media, and small and independent media are particularly hard hit. Avoiding the Canadian outcome is a now a top policy priority in other countries looking at media legislation.”

All this as the federal government prepares an online hate speech law— hate to be defined by themselves.
Many are just hoping that a Liberal loss in the next election will cease the encircling madness. That sanity will prevail. But the Japanese car manufacturers are telling us not to get our hopes too high. Trudeau Nation is quite prepared to got to its grave before ever admitting its copious mistakes.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5


Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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