Thursday, December 6, 2012

The business of football bowls

In many parts of the world, the idea of a university sports team (although this is changing). But in the United States, college and university sports are big business - especially men's football. (And again, we're speaking of American "football," not the "football" played in other parts of the world.)

After the conclusion of the regular season and various divisional championships, the bowl season begins. For the elite teams, this means that they play in a major bowl in January. Currently, the majorest of the major bowls is the Discover BCS National Championship Game on January 7, 2013.

Note that it's not just the BCS National Championship Game. It's the DISCOVER BCS National Championship Game, and Discover presumably paid a whole lot of money so that announcers will associate their name with the BCS. Considering the reputation of the BCS, I'm not sure why.

But while Discover snagged the biggest prize, there are a lot of other sponsors who are associating with a lot of other bowls - some of which begin in less than two weeks. Specifically, things kick off on December 15 with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. For some college guys, one of these bowls will be the highlight of their career. Most college football players don't make it to the NFL, but most football players don't make it to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, either.

Actually, it's surprising that anyone made it to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As of May 9, 2011, announcements were being made about the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl to take place in December of that year. Less than three months later, on August 2, it was announced that the bowl would be called the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - despite the fact that uDrove had previously signed a long-term sponsorship deal. However, uDrove is apparently putting its money elsewhere - it hasn't issued a press release since April 2011 (although its parent company mentioned uDrove in May 2012).

ESPN lists over thirty bowls that will take place over the next month and a half, and they all have sponsors. All of them. Yes, even including the Rose Bowl - whoops, the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio. Yes, the Tournament of Roses Committee, which really really tries to stay away from controversy (see my November 2007 post for a rare exception - Godwin's Law and the Tournament of Roses Committee!), has now succumbed to corporate sponsorship. Although "Rose" appears before the sponsor name, both the game and the parade are now sponsored. I wonder if the helpful Honda guys and equally helpful Vizio salespeople get an early crack at Tournament of Roses Committee memberships.

I also wonder if the Rose Bowl Queen will get a TV out of the deal. Or a car. Although Sophia Bush (former Rose Queen and star of One Tree Hill) can presumably buy her own car and TV.

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