By Shannon Higgins
Ivan Joseph clearly hasn’t heard of the Streisand effect.
It’s a pretty simple concept — an attempt to hide information backfires and generates way more interest in the information.
Joseph, Ryerson’s Athletic Director, is adamant the Eyeopener and the public never see how his department spends its $1,010,029 budget.
Back in January, I asked my intrepid sports editor Sean Tepper to get his hands on the budget. Ryerson snagged Maple Leaf Gardens December 2009 and the athletic referendum for more funding passed in March 2009, so Tepper and I were expecting some interesting changes to the expanded portfolio. Mainly we wanted to know how the money was split up and thought the numbers could be published as an infographic.
Tepper asked Joseph for a copy of the budget in early January. After a couple of weeks we were given a pathetic four-line spreadsheet with the overall budget broken down between salary, benefits and non-salary expenses.
So we filed a formal request for information on Jan. 24. Ryerson is subject to Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Under FIPPA, Ryerson’s financial information is privy to the public (with some limitations). The process usually takes 30 days and costs a small processing fee, so Tepper and I patiently waited for more results.
A month later, we receive the same meager sheet recruiting budget Joseph gave to Tepper in January. Bottom line, Joseph says we’ll never get our hands on more details and we’d get the recruiting budget over his dead body. He says the recruiting budget should be private because the numbers would give competing teams an advantage.
What does Barbara Streisand have to do with this? Well, back in 2003 everyone’s favourite funny girl freaked out and sued a photographer for posting pictures of her Malibu home online. Her home was shown among many other photos of the California coast and wasn’t generating much attention or high traffic. But after she sued the photog, traffic to the website exploded, other sites picked up the story and everyone and their mother has now seen her home.
So, the Streisand effect refers to the publicity sparked from attempts to suppress information. For a man with a PhD in sports psychology, you’d think Joseph would appreciate the concept.
Now, my imagination is racing. What could be so juicy in his modest budget that keeps Joseph from wanting to share? What teams are getting more funding? Do women’s teams receive equal financial support? How much does Ryerson spend on recruiting? Why is Joseph hellbent on keeping the budget hidden?
Joseph can play hardball until he’s blue in the face. It might take a month. It might take a year. But mark my words — the Eyeopener will get to see how Joseph is spending his cash. And we’ll publish everything.