Opinion: College Sports Sponsorships Nauseating

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)


Anybody who was shocked to learn the University of Kentucky sold its soul — uh, I mean the naming rights to its football stadium — to Kroger, please raise your hand.

Hmm ... I see exactly ... none.

Thought so. This pattern of commercialization has been the norm in collegiate athletics for years.

In the football championship playoffs alone, we have the Northwestern Mutual Rose Bowl, the Capital One Orange Bowl, the AllState Sugar bowl, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

What's more, the names change so fast, you'd think we were talking Hollywood divorces.

The aforementioned PlayStation Fiesta Bowl is the current name for what used to be — in no particular order — the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, the IBM Fiesta Bowl, the Vizio Fiesta Bowl and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.(As everyone in the Land of Large Orange knows, it was called the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl when Tennessee beat Florida State, 23-16, to win the national championship. But that was so long ago, you'll need to study American history for details. Oops. I shouldn't have brought that up; too painful for Vol fans. Forget I mentioned it.)

Nonetheless, the corporate umbilical is attached up and down the line. Get used to it.

But the Kentucky-Kroger deal marks the first of its kind among Southeastern Conference football programs. It surely won't be the last.

You gotta wonder how these arrangements will affect the game.

Will refs flip the Bradford Exchange Coin at the Pennington Seed 50-yardline before the Nike Kickoff?

Purse their lips around the Acme Thunder Whistle?

Throw the American Cotton Council Penalty Flag?

Come down with Gold Bond Jock Itch?

And when do you reckon these agreements will spread to the classroom? Such as:

"Good American Express Morning, students. Welcome to Rand-McNally Geography 101. I'm your Michelin Professor, Dr. Wilburn Thudpucker.

"We'll be following the Shell Oil Course of Study this semester; which, by the way, is the Ford Fall Semester. Successful completion of this course is required before you can sign up for Rand McNally Geography 102 during the General Motors Spring Semester.

"OK, let's begin. Please open your Pizza Hut Textbooks and turn to Holiday Inn Chapter One. Feel free to take SamSung iPad Notes. Or if you're into retro, Paper Mate Notes."

Ugh. The whole thing nauseates me.

If I can stagger to the Pfizer Medicine Cabinet, perhaps I can get some Pepto-Bismol Relief.

Sam Venable's column appears Sunday and Tuesday. Contact him at [email protected]
{module College Sports Sponsorships}

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May 22, 2017


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