TORONTO — Jeffrey Orridge is combining his two lifelong passions.
The TVO Media Education Group (TVO) and NBA announced Wednesday a multi-year collaboration to create and share educational resources for students in Ontario.
Orridge, a former commissioner of the CFL, is the CEO of TVO, a post he's held for the last two years.
"I've been involved in organized sport and education since primary school," Orridge said. "Having those two passions for decades really helped me gravitate toward this role and embrace the role because I know the influence both have on each other.
"I think this is going to be such a great relationship (between TVO and the NBA) because I think it's going to be a game-changer. You're going to get more kids involved in learning. We know the power of celebrity, we know the power of sport in terms of influencing, in terms of engagement. TVO arguably has some of the best educational content in the world and we are becoming globally recognized as a digital learning organization."
TVO and the NBA will create online resources and content for students in Ontario, including under-resourced and diverse communities, from kindergarten through Grade 12 that will "focus on the organizations’ shared values of teamwork, respect, integrity, inclusion and leadership."
“We're excited to collaborate with TVO to create basketball-themed content that will inspire and connect youth across Ontario," said Leah MacNab, the managing director of NBA Canada. "Through this initiative, we will use the universal power of sports to provide development opportunities through fun and engaging educational resources for students who need it most."
All NBA and TVO co-branded content will be shared via newsletters and can be accessed on TVOLearn.com.
"The NBA is the biggest globally recognized and trusted brand in sport," Orridge said. "It has the power to elevate and extend TVO's reach into new and more diverse communities.
"When you think about the NBA, you think about topics and themes like teamwork and respect and integrity and inclusion and leadership skills and you're able to incorporate that into learning plans and lessons that TVO creates. What's a better combination in terms of a delivery system that's impactful?"
In 2015, Orridge became the first Black chief executive of a major North American sports league when he took over as commissioner of the CFL. He held that post until June 2017.
Orridge has an extensive background in both sport and law. Before joining the CFL, the New York native worked with corporate law firm Rogers & Wells and also as head of business and legal affairs at USA Basketball, serving as its first in-house lawyer.
He later joined Reebok International, becoming its global sports marketing director, as well as sports licensing director for Warner Bros.
Orridge said TVO's collaboration with the NBA is an investment in the youth of Ontario.
"That's game-changing, particularly in light with COVID and the fact that there are recognized gaps now we're all trying to fill," he said. "COVID has affected everybody's life and I think TVO has played a role in terms of providing educational resources during the time of the pandemic and being able assist there.
"Certainly the role the NBA has is influencing behaviour and causing people to think more about health and safety and looking after each other, not just themselves. I think all of those messages have always been inspiring and that's why I think this partnership is going to be a game-changer.
"The ability to utilize education to change lives and enrich communities is the opportunity I've often looked forward to when I've thought about the roles I've had at various corporations and wanting to create social impact in whatever jobs I've had. This is a gift to me."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press