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Harris Blackwood: Thankfully, Masters has avoided the sponsor name game
Harris Blackwood

Putting on sporting events is an expensive proposition and I understand that. 

It seems like every venue, big event, and even the participant has a sponsor.

When Kyle Busch won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 in Texas, he did so in the Interstate batteries No. 18 Toyota and earned points toward the Monster Energy cup.

The Braves now play at SunTrust Park. They used to play at Turner Field, named for Ted Turner. Fans used to call it “The Ted.” I don’t think anyone will call the new home by a nickname, such as “The Bank.”

The college football championship bowls have all returned to their original names. The Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta Bowls are back to their names. I love Chick-fil-A, but I want to go the Peach Bowl, not something else. I don’t want to see a bowl that is named for a phone company, game machine or a bag of chips.

When you move down the list a bit, the corporate naming rights start taking over. What used to be the Gator Bowl is now called the TaxSlayer Bowl. Shouldn’t the TaxSlayer Bowl be played on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington?

There is the Outback Bowl in Tampa. It used to be the Hall of Fame Bowl. They have a bowl game in Phoenix called the Cactus Bowl; it used to be the Copper Bowl. It’s had a myriad of sponsors ranging from Domino’s Pizza to Motel 6.

There is one called the Camping World Bowl in Orlando. At one time it was the Tangerine Bowl. I’m sure there are plenty of people camping in the Orlando area, but tangerine just screams central Florida.

The bowl in Boise, Idaho is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. That is perfect once you get past the fact that it is played on a blue artificial turf surface. The average high temperature in Boise in December is 38 degrees. It may have started out green.

The Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., has a lot of paint on its sponsor sign. I went when it was the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl. A lot of people still call it that.

The one sporting event that has not compromised its name is the great one: The Masters. You don’t have to even add the words “golf tournament.” It speaks for itself. There are a lot of names you could give it, such as  “Good Manners,” “Pimento Cheese,” “Beautiful Azaleas,” or “Glimpse of Heaven.” 

I know people who watch only one golf tournament each year — ours. I don’t think people watching in other parts of the nation look at Augusta National and think that all Southerners live in a place like that, but it sure is a pretty picture of our state.

Now it is not without some degree of commercialization. The golfers wear logos of all sorts of companies, especially those who sell gear for playing golf. I guess they think if some person sees the winner with a certain brand of clubs, golf balls or even caps or shirts, he or she might think that they would suddenly play better.

I love the class and dignity of Augusta National and The Masters. Please don’t let it change.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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