Sports Commentary: Naming names

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The merger of bowl games and corporations leads to some oddities

By Mike Forster

  What's in a name?

The other day, the wife handed me the roster of college bowl games.  Each year, we go over that list and select the games we'll watch while noshing on chicken wings, olive-stuffed cheese puffs and pickled okra (to name but a few of the delicacies).

Sure, there are plenty of games to keep us sated.  With 35 games, how could there not be?  I hope you, too, are able to get your fix o' holiday football.

What struck me about the list, however, is the naming of some of these games.  When I was a wee one, things were simpler.  We had the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.  Those were the big four games, all of which were played on January 1.

There was also a smattering of other good games:  the Peach Bowl, Gator Bowl and Liberty Bowl come to mind.

Since then, there has been an exponential growth in the number of games (a good thing), as well as the introduction of corporations in the naming protocols of these games.  I realize corporate naming of bowls is here to stay.  I can't say, however, whether it's good or bad.  It seems to be a mixed bag.

For instance, take the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  If you're going to throw a fiesta, you can bet you're going to have Tostitos at it.  If not Tostitos, you'll have Doritos.  Or, at least Fritos or Gorditos.

Plus, in what would you serve your guests these Tostitos?  A bowl, of course.

The name comes together beautifully.

Another is the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.  Bell makes helicopters.  The Armed Forces use those whirlybirds.  And, to top it off, Air Force is playing in that very bowl game.  Perfect.

Another aptly named bowl game is the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.  If you're fortunate enough to go to Hawaii (unlike me), you're going to stay at a hotel or resort, presumably.  Sheraton has hotels and resorts.  Voila!

Then there is the Rose Bowl, the snobbiest of the bowls.  The folks that run the Rose vowed they'd never put a corporate title in front of its name:  It would retain its purity as the Rose Bowl.

That stand lasted a few years.  Today, there is a television manufacturer whose name is linked to the Rose.  But, and this is big, it comes AFTER the Rose Bowl name.  The Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio.  Catchy, eh?  Of course, TVs present, so the naming worked out for both parties.

Other bowls don't have the discomfort of sharing a name.  For instance, there's the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.  That's it.  Same with the Outback Bowl.  

The Peach Bowl became the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for a while.  Then someone realized that the chicken sandwich restaurant chain has nothing peach-related on its menu.  Today, the game is called just the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Now we come to the not-so-good names.

We lead off with the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.  Tell me, who is it that joins education and holiday together?  As I understand things, kids take a holiday  FROM getting educated.

There's the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  My potatoes come from Vista Food, right around the corner from our offices.  They're good, but not terribly famous.

How about the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl?  MAACO fixes cars.  Las Vegas is known for gambling.  Does this imply that taking your car to MAACO is a gamble?  Or that the betting in Vegas is fixed?  I've got concerns.  Others:

-Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  This one seems redundant.  When I'm hungry (and there are no famous potatoes around) I reach for Kraft cheese (such as Velveeta).  Simple.

-The Russell Athletic Bowl.  Should this not be called the Russell Athletic Cup?

-Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman.  They forgot to invite a military team, opting instead for San Jose State and Bowling Green.

-Allstate Sugar Bowl.  Why is an insurance company promoting sugar, something that's bad for you?  Why not the Allstate Transfats Bowl?

Well, that's my little joyride through the schedule.  I hope you get more enjoyment out of the actual games.

In truth, the first game that holds any real interest for me is when Cincinnati plays Duke in the Belk Bowl.

Belk Bowl?  What a minute, I ran out of space without getting to comment on that one!