Sadly, the sports world has sold its collective soul to that devil known as "the almighty advertising dollar."
I longingly remember a time when sports venues were named for people, places or teams, NOT airlines, cell-phone companies and office-supply stores! Gone are Jack Murphy Stadium, the Boston Garden and Soldier Field, replaced by gleaming palaces like America West Arena, Qualcom Park and the Staples Center ("...paging Kobe Bryant....fast-break on the paper-clip aisle...")
The very first post-season football game the Cougars played in San Diego was called, simply, the Holiday Bowl (we lost to Navy, for those keeping score at home). Simple, straight forward, aptly named -- even if it didn't feel like a vacation afterward for BYU.
But then, ESPN bowed before the corporate cash-cow, and what became the Cougar fans annual trek December roadie to San Diego was christened the "Sea World Holiday Bowl" and later the "Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl."
Now, this "sponsorship Satan" has reached into the very heart of Zion.
Where once we had the Salt Palace, we now have the Delta Center (...Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking... Today's in-flight movie selection is "Stockton-to-Malone," the story of a pair of aging NBA All-Stars turned S-U-V salesmen...).
And lest you think we Cougar fans are safe in the "shadows of the everlasting mountains," this Madison Avenue malady is working its way southward along the Wasatch Front, advancing with alarming speed toward the Marriott Center and LaVell Edwards Stadium.
You want proof?
I give you none other than the "official voice" of the Cougars. Yes, much to my chagrin, nowhere is this sports sponsorship seduction more irritatingly-obvious than on that once-hallowed A.M. radio dial. I swear, every football broadcast I heard last season sounded something like THIS:
"...1160, KSL, brings you BYU football.....
Greg Wrubel (hereafter, GW): "...and, we're BACK from our Taco Bell time out, here on a BEAUTIFUL afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium."
Marc Lyons (hereafter, ML): "...right you are Greg...it looks like Whalen MAY have made a first-down on that last carry, sponsored by Hogi-Yogi. Time for the Zion's Bank referee's measurement....let's see here...I think it might be short..."
GW: "No, you're WRONG, Marc...it's GOOD...by one link on the chains! THIS color-commentator-correction is courtesy of Tucanos Brazilian BBQ..."
ML: "Speaking of meat, if I were Gary Crowton, the way that huge offensive line is blocking, I'd run Whalen again here on 1st down...you know...try and catch the defense guessing PASS...and if your CAR is having trouble PASSING slower traffic on the interstate, you just might need to try Phillips 66 SUPER-octane fuel..."
GW: "Okay, the play-clock is down to 10 seconds, this game-clock UPDATE brought to you by Franklin-Covey Day Planners.....Berry calls for the snap out of the shotgun...the shotgun-formation courtesy of Wolfe's Sporting Goods in Orem.....there's the snap....Berry rolling-right...and when YOU think of rolls, think of Mrs. Powell's, in the University Mall food court....it's a SCREEN to Reno Mahe...Mahe with blockers in front...he's to the 45...the 40...cuts it back... OHHHHH...JUST brought down from behind by the last defender...but Mahe's all the way down to the 32 yard line...that ankle-tackle sponsored by Utah Valley Orthopedics....SPECIALIZING in ankle, elbow and knee surgery...."
ML: "Crowton with a GREAT call...and Greg, let's make THAT our Verizon Call of the Game.....Crowton going to the SCREEN on 1st down... Hey, when YOU need a screen, call the folks at Jones Paint and Glass...they have the valley's LARGEST selection of screens, drapes and blinds..."
GW: "Speaking of BLIND, Marc, I think the field judge missed a face mask there, as Mahe's head REALLY snapped around while he was being brought down..."
ML: "I think you're RIGHT, Greg. I DO believe the official missed a face mask on that tackle, which by the way, was brought to our listeners by FLYs R US, the place for ALL your fishing-tackle and other outdoor needs..."
GW: "Speaking of needs, Marc, does Crowton now go to his big tight-end, Spencer Neads, with the Cougars approaching the red zone?"
ML: "Noooo...back when I was coaching at Olympus High School, when we were down around the 30...I liked to have my quarterback throw the quick-out....and SAY....when YOU need a quick-out, be sure to visit the drive-through window at Iceberg...and try one of their world-famous shakes or malts..."
GW: "Speaking of shakes...Gary just shook his head back and forth when Bret Engemann walked-up and whispered something in his ear...Bret is probably asking if he can go in and throw one up here in the closing seconds of the first half. Marc, could you read Engemann's lips, there?"
ML: "Sorry Greg (chuckles)...my eyes aren't THAT good...and since I brought up poor eye sight, let's make that last catch-and-run by Mahe our Moran Eye Clinic Play of the Day..."
GW: "We CAN'T Marc, THAT play was our Skipper's Catch of the Day... Okay, here we go... Cougars with a 1st and 10 from the 32....Berry's in the gun with trips-right....calls for the snap....Berry looking...looking....now he's flushed-out of the pocket...that flush of course, brought to you by Roto-Rooter....with locations in Ogden, Sandy, Lehi, Orem and Springville...Berry looking deep....throws to the end zone.....CAUGHT BY CHRISTENSEN!!! CAUGHT BY CHRISTENSEN!!! TOUCHDOWN BYU!!! TOBY CHRISTENSEN WITH A SPECTACULAR CATCH IN THE BACK OF THE END ZONE"
ML: "WOW...that WAS a sensational grab by Todd's kid....we just might have to re-think the Skipper's Catch of the Day, Greg..."
GW: "Matt Payne on to attempt the Peterson's Chevrolet P-A-T. Snap...hold...the kick is UP....and..it's GOOD...the Cougars pull within four touchdowns and now trail just 35 - 7 as we approach the end of the first half..."
ML: "And here come the tortillas...raining-down from the student section of the North end zone....this tortilla throw brought to you by the good folks at Cafe Rio..."
GW: "No Marc, Cafe Rio sponsors the THIRD quarter tortilla-toss... THIS beauty comes courtesy of CHILI's..."
ML: "Well, at ANY rate...that will do it for the first half...as the clock will run out..."
GW: "By the way, speaking of clocks, Marc..."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael McQuain is an experienced former broadcast journalist who writes a satirical sports column for TotalBlueSport.com whenever he feels like it.)
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