Remember when there were just a few bowl games? Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and a handful of others.
Now there are 35 or more, most with advertising naming rights. Many of the traditional bowl games retain their original name along with the sponsor, like the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the FedEx Orange Bowl and the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Some, however, are just named for the sponsor. The season started right here in my area with the EagleBank Bowl in Washington DC. Others include the Papajohns.com Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl (at the Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte – yes, stadiums are also often named for sponsors), the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (played at Tropicana Field), the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (at Qualcomm Stadium).
One of the more ridiculous names: the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Puh-leeze! And it turns out this one, played in Atlanta since 1968, dropped its original name: the Peach Bowl.
Do these games count for anything anymore? Is there still a football game in the middle of the hype and commercialism?
Please don’t misunderstand my point; this is not a rant against advertising. I love commercials. I make my living making commercials. The company I work for exists by connecting advertisers to consumers. But shouldn’t there be some limits? Does everything have to have a sponsor?
Auto racing is my favorite sport but sometimes I laugh out loud while watching a NASCAR race. The cars are sponsored, of course, and some of the sponsor connections make sense. Jimmie Johnson in the Lowes #48 car was the points champ for the past three seasons. Building supplies and auto racing – I get that. Contenders for the championship include Tony Stewart in the Home Depot #20 and Carl Edwards, who is takin’ care of business in the Office Depot #99. Mark Martin now drives the US Army #8 but a few years ago his sponsor was Viagra; he is one of the older drivers so there is a bit of synergy there. But how does Juan Montoya feel when he climbs into the Juicy Fruit Slim Pack #42 car?
My favorite driver ever is the late Alan Kulwicki; one year his sponsor was Hooters.
Every aspect of the race coverage on TV has a sponsor. Drivers stop on pit road to top off with Sonoco racing fuel. Last year, Kasey Kahne in the Budweiser #9 Dodge won the Coca Cola 500 at Lowes Motor Speedway. In at least one race, Kahne avoided a serious collision on the track and was designated the Allstate Good Hands Driver of the day. (I’m not making this up).
Back to Bowl Games … how ridiculous can naming rights get? The Wii Bowl? The Kellogg’s Cereal Bowl? The Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner Bowl? Toilet Bowl, for short. The Edy’s Ice Cream Bowl?
What if Victoria’s Secret wanted to buy the naming rights to a Bowl game? Maybe a World Cup, Davis Cup or Ryder Cup event would be a better fit for them.
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