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Mar 15, 2021

Youngstown State professor Denis Crawford ("The Life and Teams of Johnny F. Bassett: Maverick Entrepreneur of North American Sports") joins the 'cast for a jam-packed deep dive into the life of one of the most underrated, yet enormously influential pro sports figures of the 1970s/80s.
A third-generation scion of a prominent Canadian industrialist family steeped in both media and sports team ownership, John F. (Johnny) Bassett distinguished himself from his elders as a marketing-savvy showman with a P.T. Barnum-esque flair for spectacle and a penchant for challenging the traditional conventions of professional sports - notably with teams in leagues predicated on bucking the establishment:
  • The World Hockey Association's Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls;
  • The World Football League's Toronto Northmen/Memphis Southmen;
  • World Team Tennis' Toronto-Buffalo Royals; AND
  • The United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits
Through all his adventures, Bassett catered to the common fan, demanded fair treatment of athletes, and forced traditionalist sports owners to take hard looks at the way they did business.
Crawford helps us unpack some of Bassett's most notable escapades, including: a quixotic attempt to compete with the NHL's Maple Leafs; raiding the NFL for Miami Dolphins stars Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield; battling the Canadian government over American football; an audacious attempt at marketing pro hockey in the Deep South; and his bitter rivalry with a greedy Donald Trump for the soul of the USFL.
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