As long as they spell our name right?

What is it with throwaway lines in articles about Jim Balsillie in the National Post setting me off on mad rants? They got me again today.

I’m no clinical assistant professor of sports management, so maybe that’s why I’m struggling with this reasoning from Wayne McDonnell of NYU about why Columbus is a bad NHL market. As reported in the National Post:

For example, Prof. McDonnell is skeptical of the league’s move into such “interesting and unchartered” cities as Nashville and Columbus, where he says the vast majority of the community is employed by Ohio State, which supports football and basketball. (emphasis mine)

Wait, what?

How can the “vast majority” of the population of Columbus be employed by an entity, which, per the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, isn’t even the largest employer in the region?

(Full Excel table here)

I only have a Ph.D. in political science, but even I know that “State of Ohio” isn’t actually the same thing as “Ohio State University.” So it’s unclear how the second biggest employer in town could employ the “vast majority” of the population…

Even if we give the good professor a mulligan and assume that one who isn’t from Ohio could get confused between “The State of Ohio” and “The Ohio State University,” the 46,532 combined employees of the State of Ohio and Ohio State University would represent 6.3% of the estimated 2006 population of the city of Columbus, or a measly 2.7% of the metropolitan population of 1,734,563 (2006 estimate).

As for Ohio State’s actual full time employment — that would amount to 1.1% of the metropolitan population, or 2.7% of the city proper. 1.1% isn’t a “vast majority” by any definition I’ve ever seen. Nor, for that matter, is 2.7%. If we added the roughly 50,000 OSU students to the calculation, we’d at least be bumping up against 10% of the city population, but that’s still no “vast majority” I’ve ever seen.

Maybe by “community” he meant “the six blocks around campus”?

Or by “employed by Ohio State” he meant “employed by Ohio State, enrolled at Ohio State, graduated from Ohio State, dropped out of Ohio State, has watched an Ohio State game of some sort on TV, owns or has owned an article of clothing with Ohio State on it, owns or has owned an item of clothing that is either red or grey, has ordered an Iced Buckeye at Stauf’s, has ever known that “Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town,” has ever contemplated buying one of those eight-foot tall inflatable Brutus Buckeyes, or has ever wondered who the hell would buy one of those eight-foot tall inflatable Brutus Buckeyes”?

If people want to argue that Columbus is a bad hockey market because OSU football is the hegemonic local team and always will be, have at it. But could we at least refrain from making shit up out of whole cloth to make the argument? Or do some kind of minimal fact checking — like that it’s highly unlikely that The Ohio State University has more than 10 employees to every student? Or that the population of Columbus isn’t actually 50,000?


2 responses to “As long as they spell our name right?

  1. Decided to use some of my pent up energy from a lack of blogging and write the writer of the story. Thought it was worth sharing with you:

    “Ms. Tedesco,

    With all due respect to you, I find that your research is lacking in one key area; in particular, the situation in Columbus. While certainly the words that came from Professor Wayne McDonnell were not words you yourself said, the fact that you did not do a little research and make sure that they were accurate leaves me wanting to correct you.

    In particular, it is this paragraph here that I found to be wholly inaccurate:

    “For example, Prof. McDonnell is skeptical of the league’s move into such “interesting and unchartered” cities as Nashville and Columbus, where he says the vast majority of the community is employed by Ohio State, which supports football and basketball.”

    The blatant error, of course, is in McDonnell’s comment that “the vast majority of the community is employed by Ohio State.” Let me direct you to some research done — and then accurately checked for facts — by a blogger for the Columbus Blue Jackets:

    Like Sarah points out in her entry, The Ohio State University only employs, Greater Columbus area, a meager 6.3% of the estimated population when viewing 2006 census numbers. Not “a vast majority”, Ms. Tedesco.

    But beyond the numbers, I find the logic that Columbus is not a ‘viable market’ to be laughable, just based from my own perspective and personal experience in the community. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, one look at last year’s NHL Entry Draft held in Columbus should be proof enough of just how excited and enthusiastic this market is for hockey, or at the very least the Blue Jackets.

    Have a nice day.”

    But the icing on the cake was the terse, short response I got in a matter of moments:

    “Perhaps you should take your point up with Prof. McDonnell.
    Thank you for your interest.”

    Isn’t it the newspaper’s responsibility — from the article writer to the editor — to ensure that errors are revealed and corrected?

  2. That’s funny. When I wrote the post, I did debate whether I was being too harsh on the prof, since he’s not directly quoted, and it’s possible he had said something like “Columbus is dominated by OSU sports” (which would be true) and the National Post reported it as something different. Guess they’re saying that’s not the case 😉

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