Former Leaf CEO speaks at Ryerson

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By Luke Galati

Some of the biggest names in the sports industry were at the Ted Rogers School of Management on Nov. 26 at the Sports CEO Summit, organized by Ryerson’s Sports and Business Association (RSBA).

The four headliners of the event included, Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media, Brian Cooper, the President and CEO of the S&E Sponsorship Group, Chris Overholt, the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Richard Peddie, the former CEO and president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

“I’m a great believer in teaching, I love the industry of sports entertainment and Cheri Bradish asked me to,” said Peddie.

The evening began with Ryerson students having the opportunity to meet and network with the event headliners, along with other industry professionals.

Next was a panel of the four presidents and CEOs, who shared their experiences within the sports business industry and gave students a chance to ask the distinguished guests questions about  how to get ahead.

Peddie set the mood for the night, giving a speech about his time with MLSE, and how he followed his dream to run a professional basketball team, which he made come true with the Toronto Raptors.

He also told the audience that in the sports industry, winning is not the norm.

Cooper, before his time with S&E Sponsorship Group, recalled his time as the vice president of the Toronto Raptors during their inaugural season back in 1995.

“Before Richard [Peddie] and Chris [Overhalt] came to the Raptors, it was a new franchise, and you weren’t expected to win, so there was no norm,” said Cooper.

He said at the time there was a much less sophisticated basketball crowd, so the Raptors did everything they could other than winning to keep the fans interested.

“Winning makes everything better, it makes the hot dogs taste better, it makes the beer taste better, but winning is not the norm,” said Overholt.

After the panel ended, Peddie’s book launch began with students lining up to buy autographed copies of his book, Dream Job: My Wild Ride On The Corporate Side With The Leafs, The Raptors, and TFC.

He described his autobiography and said that, “It’s about my many successes over 41 years, candidly my failures and my 22 lessons learned; it’s in the business section but sometimes leaks out into the sports section.”

“I think that they [the students] got a lot out of it, the sports industry isn’t the easiest to get into, especially the business side of it and this gives students an opportunity to try and get their foot in the door,” said Rubina Mangat, president of the RSBA.

For Mike Zelma, an accounting student at Ryerson and a huge Leafs fan, “Hearing him [Richard Peddie] talk was amazing; I bought his book, which is for my dad.”

“If I could work for a team like the Leafs that would be the dream, I’ve been a diehard Leafs fan my whole life and played hockey, doing accounting or anything for the Leafs is definitely my dream job,” he said.

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