"WINTER, SPRING, SUMMER, FALL & BOWL SEASON?"
The poor economy hits NCAA Bowl games too.
It's almost here! It's almost here--- No, it's not Christmas or New Years. The bowl season is coming! No, it's not some advertising executive's crazy campaign for a fifth season--- As far as I know, The Farmer's Almanac says we still have four seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall, but brace yourselves football fans--- The annual orgy of college bowl games is nearly upon us; 68 teams, playing 34 games, in 19 days. But, before you host that BCS Bowl party, fill your grocery list, or run out to buy that giant 1080p, hi-definition flat screen, you better think twice. Things are a little bit different this year.
Amid massive layoffs, home foreclosures, economic instability, federal bailouts and the government's recent announcement that the economy is officially in a recession, NCAA bowl officials and administrators have announced a severe cut back on bowl spending. Halftime shows, trustee perks and booster trips are just some of the benefits that have all gone wayside.
So, I went to the source; I sought out NCAA President, Myles Brand for answers.
If I got a chance to interview President Brand, this is what it might sound like.
Kay: "We all know economic times are tough throughout the country, but what changes can we expect in this years bowl games?"
Brand: "The pomp and circumstance is going to be scaled down. The teams are still going to play, the bands will still participate, but halftime shows, pre and post bowl parties, among other things will be scaled back, if not cancelled all together."
Kay: "What other things?"
Brand: "Some of the bowl venues and the athletes bowl participation awards have been scaled back."
Kay: "Can you explain?"
Brand: "Well, some of the bowl venues could not raise enough cash through ticket sales and television revenue, so we decided to move them to other venues that made more economic sense."
Kay: "You mean some bowls are on the verge of going bankrupt?"
Kay: "Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't every bowl game corporate sponsored? From the first game, the EagleBank Bowl played in Washington, D.C., to the last, the FedEx BCS National Championship Game, in Miami, don't all of them receive millions in sponsorship money?"
Brand: "Well, let me say this, we're in tough economic times and such circumstances dictate tough decisions."
Kay: "You said that student athletes bowl participation gifts are going to be reduced as well?"
Kay: "I have a list of all this season's bowl games in front of me; can you tell me specifically what changes we can expect?"
Brand: "I would be glad to."
Kay: "Well, let's start from the top; the EagleBank Bowl at RFK (Robert F. Kennedy) Stadium."
Brand: "The Bowl ran out of money, so the game will be played at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The winning players will not be foreclosed on their student loans and the losers get a picture of RFK."
Kay: "Isn't that a bit harsh?"
Brand: "No, I've secured all the necessary permits with the City of Nantucket."
Kay: "You said, Nantucket, right?"
Brand: "I did."
Kay: "So! You're the man from Nantucket taking all the cash!"
There once was a man from Nantucket
who kept all his cash in a bucket....
Brand: "What did you say?"
Kay: "...I said, ???No bash anymore, it's in the bucket.'"
Kay: "Okay, what about the magicJack St. Petersburg bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida?"
Brand: "The game was scheduled to be played at Tropicana Field, but, they too are experiencing financial difficulties, so the game has been moved to an orange grove."
Kay: "An orange grove? You're playing football in an orange grove?"
Brand: "I think we'll all squeeze in!"
Kay: "...Any prize changes?"
Brand: "The winning team will receive magicJacks and the losers get jack!"
Kay: "Isn't jax's a little girl's game?"
Brand: "I really don't know; we just sign up the sponsors."
Kay: "Okay, then? Any changes to the R+L Carriers game in New Orleans?"
Brand: "Due to Hurricane Katrina and the millions of dollars of Federal aid used to rebuild New Orleans and the Superdome, the game is still scheduled to be played there. The athlete's prizes are R+L backpacks for the winners and R+L back braces for the losers."
Kay: "Next, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium?"
Brand: "Due to the credit crunch, the game has been moved from Qualcomm Stadium to the ???Vonage Dome'. The winners receive a two hour phone card and the losers get poinsettias."
Kay: "The Motor City Bowl played at Ford Field in Detroit? They're having difficulties, aren't they?"
Brand: "Due to the financial instability of the Big Three, the ex-mayor's jail sentence and the lack of a consensus for Federal bailout money to the auto companies, the game is in severe jeopardy."
Kay: "Jeopardy? What do you mean?"
Brand: "Ford Field is nearly insolvent: the Lions have not won a game since December of 2007 and the stadium has not been sold out for the last three months."
Kay: "Is the game going to be cancelled?"
Brand: "We are attempting to have the game moved to the closed Ford Wixom plant."
Kay: "Didn't Ford give away one year leases on Mustangs to the winners last year?"
Brand: "Yeah, it was an exceptional gift! Mustangs for the winners and Focus's for the losers."
Kay: "What about now?"
Brand: "We have Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars instead."
Kay: "What about the winners, what do they receive?"
Brand: "That is the winners' prize! The losers get an exhaust test."
Kay: Wow, times are really tough! What about the Meineke Car Care Bowl at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte?"
Brand: "The game will go on as scheduled, except the Bank of America Stadium is now called, ???ABN AMRO LaSalle Countrywide Merrill Lynch Bank of America Stadium'. The winners will receive a car care package including a 27 point auto inspection and a muffler; the losers receive a lube job."
Kay: "What about the Papajohns.com Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, surely they're doing well? People still have to eat, don't they?"
Brand: "No change there. Winners will receive Papa John's subs and the losers get the john!"
Kay: "The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, played at...?"
Brand: "It's going to be held at Amon G. Carter Stadium."
Kay: "Who? Amon G. who? Isn't he Jimmy Carter's beer drinking brother?"
Brand: "Really, I have no clue who he is; as far as the prize packages? Were not sure what they're going to be."
Kay: "How about helicopter rides? Wouldn't that be fun?"
Brand: "If you haven't noticed, the military is short on volunteers, so there has been a push to recruit solid men and women."
Kay: "Yeah, it seems that at almost every entertainment venue I go to, from the movie theatres to the sports fields, the military is heavily recruiting; I can't get the Three Doors Down, Citizen Soldier song out of my head!"
Brand: "Yeah, so every player gets drafted--- The winners are drafted in as lieutenants and the losers enter as privates."
Kay: "What about the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl held at LP Field in Nashville?"
Brand: "LP Field is really outdated, so the venue has been changed to ???MP3 Field'. The winners receive a weekend package at one of the Gaylord's hotels and the losers get a free buffet."
Kay: "Isn't Liberace a gaylord?"
Kay: "Okay, what about the BCS bowl games, the commodity games on New Year's Day? What about the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Tostitos and the National Championship game?"
Brand: "Tostitos are a commodity?"
Kay: "Can you really throw a bowl party without them?"
Brand: "There will be no venue changes, with the possible exception of Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi. We seem to be having some communication problems with them."
Kay: "That's no surprise; they always seem to be having problems. If it isn't their atm's, bank loans or customer relations, it's something else--- It makes me wonder how they are so successful; they can't even spell their name correctly! It's City, not Citi!"
Brand: "That's a great observation."
Kay: "Things really have changed this year, but what about the most important game of all, the BCS National Championship Game?"
Brand: "The game was in danger of being switched to a FedEx airplane hangar in Memphis, but with the severe decline in gas prices, FedEx was able to maintain their profits and keep the game at Dolphin Stadium."
Kay: "Any prize changes?"
Brand: "The winners win a mythical football championship and the losers, get priority shipped, stamped, and return receipt requested home."
Me: "Thanks for clearing that up for everyone. Happy holidays to you and your family."
Brand: "You too Steve, and enjoy the games!"
Copyright 2008 Steve Kay