Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'd pay $600,000 to get a light show between Bill Thompson's ears

I can't even.

I wish I had a better heading and maybe I'll switch it out later but for now, nothing like a guy who sucks at his job, whose organization is a model of financial miscalculation, getting pompous about what an entire city better put out to stay in his good graces. What fucking bubble does he occupy and don't answer that.*

I would post excerpts but it's hard to do while puking. (Okay, got over that and posted one.)

And of course he puts his faith in something asinine. A light show. That is CRITICAL.

Some time back a poster in the comments section told us that London knows what it's doing putting on skating events, and Worlds should be well-managed and very well-attended, unlike most Skate Canada-managed competitions.

Well there goes that because Skate Canada CEO Bill Thompson has elbowed his way into the spotlight. Naturally, Thompson feels like he's qualified to tell London how to do its job. While every potential ticket purchaser now sees the chances of experiencing a well-run competition dimming exponentially.

Why? Because, of all the elements of this event, upon what is Thompson fixating?

The light show. The city-budget busting $600,000 light show that some London officials would like to nix, seeing as how the economy is kind of in a jam at the moment.

Please tell me the light show is going to be configured to show the Skate Canada logo in lights because I figure that's got to be it.

Per Thompson, they better not even think of canceling the light show, the component around which every successful figure skating worlds orbits. The light show was the deciding factor in Skate Canada awarding London the event (not competence? I'm surprised.).**

Screw programs, timely mailing of tickets, an organized competition, a public treated with respect. The fucking LIGHT SHOW is key. Fail to deliver on that, and London's entire reputation as a city will suffer with Skate Canada, says Thompson. Not just with Skate Canada, but with other sports.***

Hear that London?

That is Skate Canada today. Everybody from sponsors to a location that can WHIP ITS ASS in organizational competence to the ticket-buying public is supposed to run around worrying what Skate Canada - the David Brent of organized sports -  thinks of it and an entire city can just choke on higher taxes because Bill Thompson don't give a shit. He's not obligated to bring stuff downtown!

Moe, Larry or Curly?
Except, you know, not funny.
Classic Skate Canadian logic. Some city officials are balking because they want to maintain the tax freeze for its citizens and splashing out $600,000 for a light show could put that in jeopardy. Fuck that, says Thompson, showing a seasoned CEO feel for the marketplace. Increase the tax burden on Londoners if you must, but deliver that fucking light show because Skate Canada will be bringing some stuff downtown and you don't want to know how Skate Canada will feel if it doesn't get $600,000 worth of light show in return. It's the most important part of the entire Worlds! All the message board fans are banking on it!
"I do think the light show would make a very big difference. We are doing some things around the event we are not obligated to do -- bringing things downtown to increase traffic for your businesses -- and this (the light show) would help,"****Thompson said at a brief ceremony on the weekend.
Who could turn down a proposition like Bill's? Pay higher taxes because things will be coming downtown. Skate Canada things. SC - with its Midas touch.

I don't know, feels like a wash. Gimme the tax freeze and I'll suffer without the stuff Skate Canada is gonna bring downtown. Even though I bet tumbleweeds will be just a rolling through downtown London without that light show. London businesses have been telling their creditors to just hold on until Worlds because the light show is gonna set the books to rights. Of course then they'll have to pay higher taxes the following year. You think Bill could send some stuff downtown then, too?

Bill's confidence in his own judgment remains unshakeable despite years of stupendous and costly idiocy. That's a man.

Listen to Bill, London. Take his threats seriously. You don't want to lose face with Skate Canada. Bill knows from civic and corporate economics. Ask BMO, Homesense, Artistry, Nabisco and ask Kozy Shack pudding.

If I were a corporate sponsor, I couldn't wait to get into bed with this guy. He's public relations magic.

I'm out of stuff. There's so much stuff here, it's like I've got keyboard paralysis. Everything's jammed up.
We're getting an ever clearer picture of what the figure skating veterans running Skate Canada believe attracts audiences to figure skating.

1. TMI
5. Debbi Wilkes
11. Logos
12. Reminding Canadians that Skate Canada is Canadian
15. "Masculinity"
19. Light shows
79. Figure skating

**Except, despite what Thompson says in the link, apparently not.

***Bill. "Other sports" think you're a clown.

****Why doesn't he put London officials in touch with the Moscow officials who pulled off a smashing Worlds on minimal notice last year thanks to ITS light show?I'm sure Moscow will point out that without the light show businesses would have taken a hit and the venue would have been half empty.

He don't care.


  1. According to an lfpress article, the light show wasn't even part of London's original hosting bid, but was added after the city was awarded the event. The original bid included "a commitment that there would be broader activities around the venues." Thompson added that it's frustrating "because we don't know what we're dealing with."

    I find it amusing that Thompson is throwing out the "we are not obligated to increase traffic for local businesses, we're doing this for YOU!" and "I realize we're experiencing hard times economically but London needs to look at the larger picture and shell out the dough for this" when he's spent the last year and a half (maybe longer) using the excuse that the depressed economy is the reason for Skate Canada's trouble pulling in major sponsors.

    Basically, I feel like all we ever hear from Skate Canada is them blaming everyone and everything else for their problems.

  2. The larger picture is what, exactly, Bill?

    I think Bill needs to bone up on some arithmatic and economic research before blowing b.s., but when you're not accountable to anyone whatsoever, I guess why bother.

    You feel like all you ever hear from SC is them blaming everyone and everything else because that's all you ever hear except when they pat themselves on the back.

  3. This utter non-sense spewing forth from Bill Thompson is mind-boggling. The stupidity makes my head hurt. Seriously, a successful world championship is dependent upon a fraking light show?!?! Really? I don't know where to even start...

    I think the only thing Skate Canada is good at is coming up with epically dumb ideas.

  4. OT, but how typical is it in Canada for people to have job titles like "Director of High Performance"? It seems slightly arrogant?

  5. Athlete High Performance director is a common title - there's someone with basically that title (don't know if "director" is included) at the USFSA and in other sports. The "high performance" refers to athletic performance, not the athletic body's performance as an organizaion.

    Bill is CEO. I really wonder what Benoit does besides wear a suit and smile.

    1. I was referring to Slipchuk - I read the story about Amelie on icenetwork and he was interviewed. It just seemed odd to me because I don't recall anyone from the USFS (or any other country's fed) being interviewed regarding an athlete's performance or making any reference to that employee's job title. The last time I remember (off the top of my head) the US fed getting involved publicly with any athlete was when Rachael Flatt didn't disclose her injury, but even then, no specific person from the organization spoke out about it. The org as a whole said something like "We're fining her. End of story" and the attention was always on the athlete not who was running the show. Knowing what you have said about SC it just seemed another way for them to stick their nose in the public forum and throw around meaningless titles, but I could definitely be wrong about that, so I don't mean to offend anyone.

    2. Oh you didn't offend me and you're correct that the Skate Canada officials put the spotlight on themselves at every opportunity and if there aren't any they create them. You're right about them meddling publicly in the business of figure skaters.

      Basically the organization and its figure skaters are just platforms for the most public trio's self-promotion, and then toss in Barb. They look at the organization in terms of how it can benefit them, particularly their power tripping and unquenchable thirst for attention and need to see their names in print and hear themselves talk. It always appears to me as if the promotion is formatted explicitly to create roles for the officials - they see themselves as on camera and in-media intermediaries for the figure skaters whom we may only experience through them. Want the skaters? You have to get Debbi and Bill. It's like holding the public hostage - a captive audience. Only the audience is disappearing.

    3. The title may be legit, but you're absolutely right that SC likes to stick its nose in, and in such a way that the reader cannot miss being informed of both the title and name of the SC official being quoted or interviewed. It never ceases to amaze me that the skating public actually KNOWS the SC official's names, faces and titles. (WHY??) But we know nothing of those details regarding the USFSA.

    4. Yeah I would guess the average USFS member doesn't even know who the president of the organization is, much less someone of the public who's a casual skating fan. It's weird that Debbi goes around interviewing athletes, rather than a journalist or commentator. It appears that SC has an incestuous type of relationship, like some kind of ecosystem that survives from feeding off itself. So the three or so people near the top just create opportunities for themselves, like one person doing all the interviews AND running the website AND making the logo AND getting sponsors... can't somebody else get a chance?

      And yes a $600k light show is a huge waste of money. Since they are hungry for sponsorship that money could have been better spent some other way.

    5. "It appears that SC has an incestuous type of relationship, like some kind of ecosystem that survives from feeding off itself. So the three or so people near the top just create opportunities for themselves, like one person doing all the interviews AND running the website AND making the logo AND getting sponsors... can't somebody else get a chance?"

      I love that description of SC as an ecosystem that survives from feeding off itself.

      And yeah to getting opportunities for themselves except that the one part that takes actual competence - getting sponsors - is fail. Oh well, she's a winner at getting her face on camera.

  6. I have to add - by most accounts, London, Ontario is one of the few venues in Canada that can deliver a full house for a skating event, whether a tour or competition.

    So if you're Bill Thompson, make sure London knows they're "you" ("YOUR businesses") and Skate Canada is "us" and "we" are more important than "you" and can always take our thriving business elsewhere, like Moncton. Please consider anything we do when we award Worlds to your city as a total favor. After all, you bid on the event solely for the prestige. There was no implicit understanding that Skate Canada was going to deliver economic value. Any "things" Skate Canada brings to your city we are actually under no obligation to do,so please quake in your boots at the thought of Skate Canada not liking you anymore because what City Hall could resist a relationship like that?

    Bill just wanted to clear that up, just in case anyone in London (or any of the other Canadian cities that must be kicking themselves about now for losing out) was under the impression that cities bid for World Championships because it's economically beneficial. Nooooooooooo no. Skate Canada is under no obligation to do any of that stuff. Light show please. It's worth fucking up London residents' tax burden just for the pure honor of having the attention of Bill and his familiars.

    When we see how Bill treats one of the few Canadian cities interested in figure skating one really ponders how the hell BMO ever got away.

  7. Leaving aside the fact that the article(s) are not providing every detail of the situation, it feels like Skate Canada's larger PR problem is that they almost always appear intent on standing atop a self-made podium, congratulating themselves on achievements and passing the buck anytime things don't work out as assumed/predicted/hoped for.

    What's so frustrating, Skate Canada? You don't know what you're dealing with? You're dealing with a city that loves figure skating and generally put on fantastic events in the past. Are you not sure you'll have the event space as promised? The accommodations for the skaters/fans? Doesn't seem to be the case. The case seems to be that a light show was not part of the original bid package (but "broader activities around the venues" was) and London was chosen to host the event regardless. Did Skate Canada accept the bid with an understanding that the light show would happen, even though it technically wasn't part of the bid itself? If that was the case, isn't that a risk Skate Canada chose to take when selecting London as the event recipient?

    More so than that, isn't this the same guy who, on many occasions, has complained that the reason Skate Canada is having trouble bringing in major sponsors is on account of the economy? Isn't that the main excuse always being thrown around by the federation? Now he's saying that despite the economic situation, London should shoulder the additional tax burden regarding "broader activities around the venues" (in this case, the light show) because it will be better for the city in the long run, and if they don't, that will tarnish the city's reputation with Skate Canada (and other sports - because clearly, Thompson speaks for them as well)? Obviously the London city council disagrees with that assessment, at least in part. One wonders what tax-paying Londoners think of Thompson's threat (because regardless of the situation at hand, what matters is how its perceived).

    I know the USFSA is far from perfect, but in general, they handle their PR very well. They seem all about telling prospective and current skaters/fans how much they're wanted/needed. "We'd love to have you here! Your support is so important to us! We couldn't do it without you! Come have fun and learn to skate! We want to make skating accessible to you!" With Skate Canada I feel like so many of their public statements (especially over the last few years) have revolved around them blaming someone else for their problems (it's not OUR fault, it's the economy, its Canada's love of hockey, it's this, it's that), demanding apologies when they feel the press has misled the public about their skaters (and isn't THAT ironic, by the way), or just generally screaming "HEY, WE'RE TAKING OUR BALL AND GOING HOME! YOUR LOSS!" when things don't work out as they planned/wanted. It's so egotistical.

    Treating consumers like they're worthy of varying degrees of contempt or chastising them in an incredibly condescending manner doesn't generally increase support or help sell a product.

  8. It's the freaking TONE. It's so contemptuous. You don't lead with asshole. You don't hit the mike at some ceremony a year in advance and start lecturing an event partner that your organization is "under no obligation" to do basic stuff that it was gonna do downtown(stuff that was built into the city's assumptions behind bidding, btw - no city bids out of the goodness of their heart). You don't turn insufferable and ridiculous and egocentric and say your event partner's reputation will suffer not just with Skate Canada but with other sports (don't be so sure having conflict with SC won't enhance London's reputation, Bill).

    You don't take the position that the fundamental quid pro quo relationship that's part of a winning bid by a Canadian city is actually you doing them favors but their end of the deal is something they OWE you.

    The event is more than a year away. It's completely typical to have items to iron out. It's completely typical to not be completely clear yet about certain specifics. But. Just because SC takes four years to get off its ass about something and then doesn't, doesn't mean London isn't going to deliver. For Christ's sake. This is one of the cities that is supportive of figure skating in Canada. Not only the city officials, but the community. And Thompson weighs in with contempt, dismissively saying: "Your businesses" as if it's of no real concern to Thompson but he'll acknowledge it matters to them - and showing a lack of respect for whatever London's concerns may be.

    These things are BASIC. How do you sour a partnership with LONDON? Where's the commonplace respect and maturity from Thompson? How DARE an organization like Skate Canada which has driven off sponsors and created a marketing program that is nothing but hot air presume to lecture London, Ontario about organizing a successful World Championships.

    Don't get me started about one of your asides - how Thompson rode in thundering about the press misrepresenting Patrick Chan while his other face has been perpetuating a misrepresentation about Virtue Moir on the public for five years and charging the public money for it.

  9. I don't get how the CEO of an organization overseeing a struggling sport gets the attitude that everyone from the public to a city council should "consider it a positive" Skate Canada deigns to notice they're alive. How do they think the economic model works, here? They may have their heads up their asses about the star wattage they manage but it's really the marketplace that decides stars and their value, and not Skate Canada. Elite sports is entertainment. Entertainment is discretionary spending. The product (which is Skate Canada) doesn't decide its value, the market does. Not to mention that SC is partly funded by the public. It's not a private entity. I don't know where he gets his attitude, I don't. If the public doesn't give a shit about figure skating that's tough luck for him - maybe he should figure out how to appeal to the public instead of building marketing initiatives around the idea that the public should fall over itself impressed. Maybe he should use inclusionary words ("we") and not exclusionary words and tone. If to him it's "us" and "you" when he's speaking to and about an entire city with whom SC is partnering to put on Worlds, when exactly does US come into his mind? Certainly not when dealing with the public. SC is elitist, with absolutely no basis to behave that way. For one thing, the CEO of a truly elite organization would comport him or herself more professionally - professionalism is part of being elite. For another, an elite organization, one might assume, would be financially healthy. An elite organization would deliver a product that was in demand. An elite organization would treat its market, its corporate partners and its civic partners like partners, not entities fortunate to breathe SC air. Where does he get off posturing as if SC is elite? The marketing is horrible, the sponsors have fled the sinking ship, if they were a theatre they'd have to hit the streets to paper the house in order to get a crowd and their reputation sucks. Where is Thompson coming from other than a place of unearned self-regard, unexamined and epically idiotic fixations and assumptions, and tone deafery in public discourse?

  10. My sister lives in London and about a month ago I heard from her that the mayor (who by all accounts could be an honourary Skate Canada a-hole) was insisting the city build a huge video screen outside specifically for Worlds. I don't know if that is the same/related/different than the light show. In the meantime, how are they keeping the budget balanced? cuts to the fire department!!

  11. How can one figure skating official hold an entire city hostage like this? It's bullying, and extortion, telling businesses they should be thanking their lucky stars? I have never in my life heard of figure skating causing a tax increase for a city. This event will probably lose loads of money and then afterwards they will all act stunned, like how can this happen, we're Skate Canada.

  12. They'll say London's economics aren't their problem.

    Didn't London have riots recently? And Bill gets on the mike to whine about a fucking light show? What the fuck Bill?

    Overindulged is the mot juste for these petty dickish incompetents. They're like mini sun kings. Referring back to the phony Patrick Chan contre-temps - just an inflated "controversy" giving SC pooh bahs the chance to get their names in print and act self-important - I could not believe Thompson publically lectured the media in the way they presented Chan's comments. He knows perfectly well this is the same media indulging Skate Canada and the Virtue/Moir lie foisted upon the public. So he lectures a media that is already doing his dirty work that they need to do more? The media is SC's bitch?

    Apparently so, and apparently so is the London mayor. I really wonder if everyone else is going to be accountable economically EXCEPT SC which will continue to enjoy protected status - or at least its officials will. And the question really is why.

  13. There are and will continue to be zero consequences to Skate Canada's mismanagment and institutionalized incompetence and shenanigans. That's why William Thompson SC, CEO can be above petty considerations like "businesses" and "taxes". He doesn't live in the real world, he lives in a pork barrel world; he occupies the same world as no show and low show job holders whose performance has no bearing on their job security. He behaves as does Debbi as do most of them in the national directorships as if performance doesn't matter because they're set for life. It must be true because no organization loses its major sponsors without new ones without a shake up unless that organization is a fiefdom accountable to nobody.

    I figure Debbi, Bill, Barb etc. treat TPTB in Ottawa as they treated Rosie DiManno - unctuous ass kissing and establishing dear personal friendships, and it has protected them. Forget the best interests of the organization - it's the best interests of these officials, personally. They have to operate that way because none of them are actually qualified for the positions they hold (with the possible exception of Slipchuk who nevertheless has appeared at times to be more interested in the promotional aspects of working for SC and not developing athletes below star level). If you're "working" at a job you can't actually perform, then the way you stay in the job is relationships with the right people. That must be what's going on here. Doing the job right is not an option - they don't know how.