This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinions for CBC Sports. For more information on CBC Opinion Section, please consult the Faq.
Six years ago, I attempted to begin a transition from the Toronto Star’s departments, from business, where newsroom management referred me in 2011, to sports, where I had spent most. of my time and energy.
The sports editor was on board, along with, it seems, the senior executives. But before we could make the trade, another decision maker called me into his office to tell me he was blocking movement for two reasons. First, he said, companies don’t let employees dictate their work. It didn’t matter that I didn’t force anyone to accept my proposal. I just suggested it.
Beyond that, he said, I hadn’t proven that I deserved to move from a role I tolerated to one that I enjoyed.
“Maybe,” he said. “You’re just not that good.”
“Maybe,” I say. “But have you ever read my work?
WATCH | The Bring It In panel discusses the Rogers report wanting Ujiri out:
Of course he hadn’t. If he knew my work, he wouldn’t have questioned its quality. When he asked me, half-rhetorically, what I would offer the sports department, I asked him what I wanted.
Latest news, game stories and features with the same competence. I was almost fluent in Spanish, the only bilingual journalist on baseball beat the two years I covered it. I created the rhythm of the sports business at the Star, I was comfortable in front of the camera, and also the creative force behind Sportonomy, the video series unionized in more markets than I could count. I also mentioned the National newspaper award. For sports writing. Just in case he questions my credentials again.
His answer was clear, unambiguous and ironic.
“You’re pretty full of yourself,” he said.
I’m not telling this story to gain sympathy or to dunk my enemies. I share it because I can imagine how Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri must have felt during the corporate drama the Star reported on Monday. Imagine being the architect of the most successful race in franchise history, negotiating a new contract last summer, only to learn that Edward Rogers, then chairman of the board of Rogers Communications, actively tried to ” prevent Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment from re-signing you.
Imagine overseeing the club’s only NBA title, and especially for people at the level of Edward Rogers, a deductible value multiplied by four, only for Rogers to dismiss you, according to Star’s story, as “arrogant” and unworthy.
I don’t need to imagine this because, like many friends in North American businesses, I have experienced a version of this scenario. I’m not saying I’m the Masai Ujiri of sports writing. A good day’s work for me is a story with no misspelled names. A good day for Ujiri is an NBA championship, or persuading the former president Barack Obama to be released at Scotiabank Arena.
But Ujiri and I both know the business life of racial microaggressions and recognize the burdens they place on a long list of people. My friends and I often joke that black people in business deserve at least five extra days of vacation to decompress indirect racism we encounter in the office, or in compensation for our unpaid work as de facto diversity consultants. The Star reports that when Ujiri learned of the depth of Edward Rogers’ disrespect, he considered taking a full year off.
So we can, and we must, think about what racial micro-aggressions cost employees of color in terms of time, energy, sanity, career advancement and wages. But we can also reflect on what organizations lose when decision makers poison the work environment of top performing employees who are not white.
Hubris is part of the brand
Of course, it is about race. Word “arrogant“Get the game going. If Edward Rogers didn’t like sheer overconfidence, he wouldn’t hang out in Suite C, where high self-esteem is a requirement of the job. And he certainly wouldn’t make it to Mar-a. -Lago for pose for photos with Donald Trump.
Even people who love the ex-president, and buy his lies about a rigged election, wouldn’t mistake him for someone humble. Pride is part of the brand.
When whites deploy the word “arrogant,” they are aware of the racial cargo it carries. That’s why they use it. It’s a label they apply to black people who are good at their job, and who know it.
If you challenge the (mostly white) boundaries that decision makers have given you, outdo your white colleagues who can’t do what you do and know your skills make you unique, prepare for backlash. When a white person with similar tools and attitude is confident or self-confident, you are arrogant or arrogant or full of yourself.
An attribute. Two interpretations. Two standards.
The words were not chopped.
On Bring It In Final Episode, Panel Responds To Toronto Star Report That MLSE Director Edward Rogers Did Not Want Masai Ujiri To Return As Raptors President@EdgeofSports
If we’re calculating the costs of subtle racism, consider the good people organizations alienate when micro-attacks spread unchecked, or filter through the process of hiring, firing, promoting, and retaining talent. Consider who leaves and who stays to move up the corporate hierarchy.
To be clear, consider whether you would trade Masai Ujiri for Edward Rogers. Before you answer, review Rogers’ track record of making top people decisions.
In 2015, he decided to oust longtime Blue Jays president Paul Beeston. He didn’t tell Beeston about it, but called White Sox general manager Jerry Reinsdorf to inquire about poaching from then general manager Ken Williams. Except Beeston’s close circle of friends includes Reinsdorf, who quickly called Beeston to inform him of Rogers’ plot.
Last week we learned that Rogers had concocted a plan to replace longtime CEO Joe Natale with CFO Tony Staffieri. With the exception of Staffieri, Natale, who answered his phone to hear Staffieri and other executives discuss the coup. Staffieri has since resigned. Natale stays with Rogers.
And this week came the Ujiri news.
According to the Star, Rogers objected to paying him US $ 15 million a year, called Ujiri to tell him he wasn’t worth it, and tried to block a new deal.
Ujiri makes tough decisions that pay off – the season after sacking head coach Dwane Casey and fan favorite DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors have won the NBA title. He also helped build a system that allows the Raptors to turn draft night’s afterthought like Fred Van Vleet and Chris Boucher into high profile contributors. He’s like Daryl Morey, or the dozens of other cult leaders of undervalued assets who make big money in the professional sports front offices, except he actually has a title.
What about Rogers? He hires and fires on his whim, with half-baked plans that could backfire. It’s like Donald Trump meets Wile E. Coyote meets succession planning.
Luckily for Raptors fans, Rogers only owns 37.5% of MLSE, which means other stakeholders were able to protect Ujiri from the anvil Rogers tried to throw him down.
Blue Jays fans aren’t so lucky. Rogers Communications owns the team and Edward Rogers is the president, with the final say on big financial decisions, like how much money to give to free agents. It’s a big responsibility this year, with Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien set to hit the free market, and no other major player to save Edward Rogers from his worst instincts.
If you are a Raptors fan, grateful for a few more years in Ujiri, send your thoughts and prayers to a Blue Jays supporter. They will need both.
Bring it | The NFL finally agrees to end the “normalization of the race” with a big rule: