Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moral of the story: Think before hiring a 'Barbie blonde' who blabs about going to Dr. Anthony Galea when your marquee sport just had a doping scandal

Only in Canadian Interuniversity Sport do you get this good of an ironic epilogue.

This summer, yours truly was fairly consumed by pointing out the Waterloo Warriors doping scandal was exacerbated by a bush-league approach to collegiate sports in Canada (there are exceptions to the rule, which one should be grateful for). It was, to my mind, blown out of proportion since it was the only point of reference many media consumers had to Canadian university football. Meantime, CIS has moved aggressively to increase drug testing, but it's only a half measure if they don't start to market it better.

Anyway, so over the summer Ontario University Athletics, with a team shut down for the season by doping, needing to continue to take those steps, went about hiring a new PR person for for media relations.

Presumably those factors would rule out giving the senior communications job to a 24-year-old who blogged about being treated by Dr. Anthony Galea during the period while she was interviewing for a job with the OUA.

Yep, Laura Bridgman, a self-described "Barbie blonde" and "occasional vixen," whom I'm told has been hired as the OUA's communications and social media coordinator, claims to be a patient of Galea. The Toronto physician is is facing "separate U.S. and Canadian criminal investigations for, among other things, alleged smuggling and drug-related offenses."

It's irony, on a base level. There's nothing wrong with going to Dr. Galea. However, a big part of being a communications professional is realizing what needs to be dealt with seriously. Much of spin control is knowing what you should not say. And here is the OUA, hiring someone who not only lacked the self-awareness to realize she shouldn't say that about Dr. HottiePants while applying for a job with a league that's been doing damage control over doping all summer, but was amused by his notoriety. Did the OUA check that out? That's all.
"The man who injected my ankle, Dr. HottiePants, is actually Dr. Anthony Galea. He founded his clinic (ISM Health & Wellness) when I was 4 years old. My love of old men wins again!

"The name sound familiar? He's the doctor that's treated Tiger Woods, A-Rod, and others in the states without a license to practice in the US. Read the telling story about him in The Washington Post from June. Oh even without trying, I'm all drama, drama, drama!" (Aug. 11, 2010)
Nineteen member schools, countless numbers of newspaper journos looking to abandon ship and this is who the OUA hires to help increase its media presence? This is about who hired the person, not the person who was hired.

Some might question quoting Ms. Bridgman's blog, but it was discovered in about, oh, 10 seconds of Googling. Her LinkedIn professional profile links to a Twitter account connected to her blog. That makes it fair game. Many an employer does an Internet search on a job applicant, just to see what comes up.

Also, Twitter followers ain't everything, but Ms. Bridgman only has 231. At least two contributors have several times more.

I don't presume to know what's in the minds of female athletes aged 18-22. Surely, there are some progressive women who play sports in the OUA and might be interested to know their interests will be represented by someone who uses phrases such as "PR chickies" on her blog.

You really have to wonder about the due diligence and thinking-it-through elements on the OUA's part. Bridgman, by the way, is a recent grad (2007) of the University of Windsor, where OUA president Gord Grace is athletic director. She was a communications assistant for the conference in late 2008, so she has some experience, just not a lot.

Ultimately, if the OUA wants to be looked upon at big-time, there are standards. One is having a resident communications specialist who doesn't raise concerns by failing to cover her tracks online. People have to keep their fun and professional sides separate, or it could be bad for credibility.

No one is saying you cannot hire a young woman, but hire a experienced communications professional. Instead, a sporting concern with an upstream swim to to earn credibility with a sadly still male-dominated sport media went and hired a young woman who's blogged about having her panties exposed ("navy lace boyshorts for all those walking on a different street this morning and are curious to know") by a chance gust of wind.

Ms. Bridgman's blog also contains misspellings of simple words ("with out" and "miss-read"). To quote Toby Flenderson, "Is that enough? Do you want me to go on?"

Of course, in that same episode of The Office, Michael Scott shoots back, "Why are you the way you are?" To answer the question, it's about wanting the OUA and CIS to grow. An organism only grows if it exposes itself to light, turning to people who think about the league critically, bring new ideas. Not sure that happened here.

There were some reservations about getting into such an obscure topic, and full disclosure, some of the unsuccessful applicants are acquaintances. Sometimes you have to call in your cards, though.

One has to believe the OUA had applications from people who were better and more mature than this — female, male, 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, whatever.

The point is the obvious, though. It's all inter-related. A lack of professional standards contributed to the Waterloo debacle blowing up real good. Now it gets reinforced by hiring someone who doesn't filter very well. This isn't an personal attack, and I'm deeply sorry if it's construed as such. The sticking point is Grace's screening process.

It's not so much a literal connection. Still, people in the same realm of sport which has become super-serious about steroids have turned around and hired someone who did not seem to grasp why Dr. Anthony Galea is in legal trouble, to work in media relations. That beats just about all.


WheatCitysFinest said...

Yeah I don't really care about the Twitter followers and I think you're acknowledging enough that that doesn't really indicate someone's grasp of social media. I have probably 15 followers on Twitter. I still by and large it's a moronic medium but I also understand its purpose and it's popularity and I can easily navigate it — even with only 15 people seemingly caring about what I do.

That said, the point is valid that the hiring at the CIS level has been generally disgraceful. For every one good SID in Canada, there's three others who struggle with the very basic tasks of writing press releases.

I guess I'm just too tired to hate anymore. It's been going on for so goddamned long and I've dealt with and see too many incompetent people in enviable positions that I've stopped caring.

Truth be told, I could easily imagine that through the hiring process the Waterloo issue was not once even discussed with prospective candidates. I could easily see those in charge not being aware enough to realize that that should be an issue that the successful candidate would have to deal with.

I don't know this woman from Adam and I'm not a hater (using the kids' terms to describe someone who hates on other people's success), so I wish her the best of luck. Your points are valid and I agree and would've written the same thing a few years ago when I was working in Ontario. It's good when someone, anyone, points out the lunacy of the CIS. I just don't know if it matters.


Anonymous said...

Pretty personal man. Sure your friends deserved the job? Doesn't seem like they aren't handling the disappointment very professionally, if you felt the need to write this.

sager said...

Guess you struggled with reading comprehension. It was stressed that it wasn't personal; we clearly laid out there are professional concerns about this person. You're making a false distinction.

You're also making an unsubstantiated accusation anonymously; no one asked me to do this, and for the record, as far as I know the people I know are taking this with a grace and dignity you and I will never possess.

Thanks for writing. Leave a name next time.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don’t care about CIS, OUA or whatever.

No, I read it just fine. I'm just not sure what would trigger someone to Google her or even give a shit? Never mind the plausible need to state "in full disclosure"...twice. But, yes, I must have issues with comprehension. Or I just don’t see how – on the list of items to write about – could someone find this as a interesting discussion topic.

Only in Canada would a sports blogger waist 1000 words on this.


sager said...

Did you "waist" (it's waste, actually) your time doing a word count?

Do you have anything constructive to contribute, other than pointless anon. snark? Address the points or move on.

Superfun Happy Slide said...

Ah Sager,

Still making friends and influencing the discussion again I see.
Speaking of vetting candidates: may I suggest one of the Mustang Cheerleaders who made the pages of SI?
Try to play nicely with others. Although, the p****** match was fun to follow.

Happy Slide

sager said...

Well-played, but the point is people shouldn't get certain jobs based on their looks.

Anonymous said...

I think this would be better suited for one of those garbage gossip blogs my girlfriend reads. I come here for information on athletics not to witness you bursting some girl's bubble. Is this about your concern for Ontario athletics or did you apply for this job yourself? I don't have the time, nor the interest, to read this girl's personal information online. Seeing as I did read your blog, however, I might suggest you start using spell check. People who live in glass houses...
Please spare me the smut as I shop for blogs that don't force me to read girl talk.
Andrew, Kanata

sager said...

Andrew, Kanata,

No, I didn't apply for the job myself, and 3-plus years of writing should affirm my concern for Ontario athletics.

I would have left this alone if I had applied and I made sure to state that acquaintances of mine had.

Also, it's sexist to refer to a 24-year-old grown woman as "some girl."

In re: spell check, the only suspect words it turns up are either abbreviations or proper names, so I'm not sure what you mean. I do have some issues with diction by times, I'll try to improve on that.

Thanks for putting a name to your comments. Now seek help.