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Corporations continue bid to rule sports world

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 28, 3004
It was one of those father daughter moments that could only be brought to the general public with the sensitivity, class and grace of "The Simpsons."
That wacky, yellow cartoon family from the mind of Matt Grooning is so much a part of the American consciousness apparently it has seeped into the NFL.
It was little Lisa Simpson's birthday, and the young tyke with the mind of a supergenious and a flower child decided she needed a fictional diary called the "Girltech Turbo Diary."
The spiked-headed little girl approached her mother and father at the kitchen table and gave a pitch that would do any young child's heart proud.
It went like this:
Lisa: Mom, Dad, my birthday is coming up and Girltech Turbo Diaries are in stores now.
To which, Homer responded like any father would.
Homer: Lisa, nobody likes a shill.
Lisa: Just buy me the friggin' toy.
Homer: I love that little shill; let's get her a diary.
Congratulation, Chicago Bears you are now the eternal second-grader Lisa Simpson, a shill.
For those readers who may have missed it, one of the original NFL teams has peddled its name to Bank One.
They are now "Bears football presented by Bank One."
Ted Phillips, the Bears' president and chief executive officer, told Knight-Ridder that the deal would bring "a new level of corporate partnership to the city of Chicago and the NFL." Bank One is based in Chicago.
It will also bring the Bears a boatload of money.
A business source familiar with the contract, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, put the total at more than $30 million.
Bank One will get signs all over the stadium, advertisements on Bears' radio broadcasts and non-game television programs, the team's banking business, a presence at training camp, and a sponsorship role in the team's community outreach efforts, according to the news service.
Also, the team will often make use of the phrase "Bears football presented by Bank One" on the air and in newspapers, according to Knight-Ridder.
Sure, the majority of the sports' media world will simply ignore the Bank One tagline, and the Bears will continue to simply be the Bears for the duration of the 12-year deal.
But a dangerous, if not boarder line ridiclous precedence has been set with this deal.
We have slowly seen cooperate America take over ballparks and arenas over the last decade.
The Giants play in Pac Bell. The Astros call Minute Maid Park, formally Enron Field (now that was a winner), home. The Rams lock horns with the rest of the NFL in the Edward Jones Dome.
Heck, all of the football college bowl games have to be sponsored by something.
But now that the doors have been opened for corporations to stamp their products onto teams, what's next?
Are individual players going to start selling themselves to the highest bidder?
Granted, most will say that is already happening, but don't be too surprised when the next big thing in football, baseball or basketball changes his name to something like Nike Smith or And 1 Jones.
It may sound drastic, but are we really that far off?
Okay maybe corporations will simply start sponsoring athletes like Bank One is "presenting" the Bears.
Maybe the next time Terrell Owens scores a touchdown for the 49ers the announcer will say, "A touchdown for Owens brought to you by Sharpie."
Or how about, Sammy Sosa getting his own sponsor that way the home run call can be, "The cork manufacturers of America bring you another Sosa home run."
Actually, this doesn't sound that bad does it?
Hey I want in, can I be the company that makes those little plastic thingies on the tips of shoelaces presents Meridian Star assistant sports editor Tony Krausz?
Way to shill Bears. You have shown us all the way.v

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