Have you ever wondered how we got to the point- where there is at least one college football game on television every single day for two and a half weeks from mid December to early January?
Why and how have college football bowl games reached a point where now multiple cities (New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego) have both a real bowl game after Christmas and also a junior varsity bowl game before Christmas?
Well, if you know where you’re coming from with bowl games, it’s very easy to understand how we got here and where we’re going.
I first heard the true origin story of college football bowl games during a casual conversation with a very close friend many years ago. Of course that friend is Chief of Staff to a Chicago Alderman, so he knows a thing or two about how the proverbial sausage is made. t
Then a couple years ago I received an official press release from the Sugar Bowl about an app they were launching, and found official confirmation of the story buried in a disclaimer at the bottom of the mass email.
Basically, the convention and visitors bureau in a respective city got together with the local chamber of commerce and conceived an excuse to sell hotel rooms during a notoriously slow period of the year.
During the holidays, lots of people do indeed travel, but usually only to see family members.
Hence they stay in private homes with their families, and not in hotels. Hey, those hotel rooms (and much later the corresponding airfares, restaurant dollars, shopping etc. etc.) don’t sell themselves you know! (My God, if I was ever fortunate enough to be asked to be a guest on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” this would be the story that I was born to tell, in that setting)
Here’s an excerpt from that Sugar Bowl Committee email, the “smoking gun” if you will.
This paragraph was buried at the bottom of the release but it came straight from an official Sugar Bowl spokesperson:
The New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association was founded in 1934 by a group of civic-minded businessman and professionals interested in holding sports events for the purpose of selling hotel rooms and restaurants to make money off tourists in New Orleans during what had traditionally been a slow period for tourism.
They’re now known as the Sugar Bowl Committee.
In the past, we’ve mistakenly ascribed romantic notions of “amateurism,” “warmth,” “the holidays,” “pure competition,” “vacation,” and “sportsmanship” to the bowls, and every year that idealism dies a little more as the system of bowl games, already very diluted, expands further and the names, already ridiculous, become goofier somehow.
However, we shouldn’t cling to that mythology any longer as the purpose of bowl games has always been capitalistic, materialistic and nothing else.
The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl is no different from the very first Rose Bowl, regarding the overall point of this exercise.
In the selection process, bowl committees prioritize the teams that, given the current conditions, could potentially produce the highest sales of hotel rooms, tickets, merchandise, restaurant outings etc. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the names of so many bowl games are so awful today:
San Diego County Credit Union #PoinsettiaBowl
When the soulless corporate sponsor name of your bowl is so long that I run out of room to Tw
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) December 22, 2016
Then again, this is also nothing new.
Look at some of the names of bowl games of yesteryear.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.
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