PRO-TEAM CHALLENGE – by Bill Harrington, Detroit Sports Media Association Board Officer
What do the Detroit Lions, Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers and DCFC have in common? Very little. They play totally different sports in stadiums, on fields, ice, and hardwood. However, they’ll be together at the same venue – Lake Huron – where they’ll be represented in the 99th Annual Bayview Mackinac Race Pro-Team Challenge.
This “race within a race” pits five randomly selected boats, each representing one of Detroit’s professional sports teams, against each other. It began in 2010 with a degree of skepticism. Skippers didn’t know what they were getting involved in. Either did Bayview. DSMA Vice President, Jim Rein, and I had been invited to a meeting at Bayview. The club was looking for a way to broaden media exposure and attract more sailors. Having raced in 20 Mackinacs, I was quite familiar with the exposure the race already received. Unfortunately, I left the meeting stumped and with no creative ideas.
About a week later it hit me. What if each of the professional teams could ‘sponsor’ a boat. All the boats have a rating to create equality. It would be a “race within a race”. There would be no money involved. The pro-teams would provide the crews of the selected boats with team shirts, hats, and a flag. The specific team that won the Pro-Team Challenge would then be hosted and recognized by the professional team at one of their games.
The Pistons were contacted first. They were in. Each of the three other teams quickly followed suit. Bayview then bought into the concept. And the skippers, after a bit of questioning what this was all about, said yes also. This year, a fifth team was added the Detroit City FC, the professional soccer club.
Each June, representatives from each team meet at Bayview for the Pro-Team Challenge Draft. The names of all Michigan boats participating in the race are placed in the Hudson Trophy Cup. Team representatives draw a boat. This year Lomas Brown (Lions), Rick Mahorn (Pistons), Ken Kal (Red Wings), Todd Jones (Tigers), and Sean Mann (DCFC) were on-hand Thursday evening June 8. Drawn were:
Audacious – Lakeshore Sail Club/Great Lakes Yacht Club – Detroit Lions
Snipe – North Star Sail Club – Detroit Pistons
Double Jeopardy – Detroit Yacht Club – Detroit Red Wings
Tar Baby – Bayview Yacht Club – Detroit Tigers
Underdog– Windsor Yacht Club – Detroit City FC
Over the 12 PRO-TEAM CHALLENGE races, the Tigers have won once – the first race. The Pistons won 2. The Lions 3 and the Red Wings 5. During the recent pandemic, the Pro-Team Challenge was suspended for 2 years.
Detroit Sports Media Association is proud to be a partner with Bayview Yacht Club in the Pro- Team Challenge and we both are sincerely appreciative of the participation of the Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Detroit City FC.
As one of the previous participating skippers said, “This Pro-Team Challenge is good for the whole sporting community. It adds pleasure and interest in the race. We’re very happy to be representing one of Detroit’s Professional Teams”.