Sell Out? Or Just Good Business? (2/9/06)
There's been a lot of reaction to the recent announcement that the Run for the Roses will soon be known as "The Kentucky Derby, presented by Yum! Brands." And some of the howls of protest could make you think America was thinking of replacing the stars on the flag with McDonald's Golden Arches.
But it doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.
Granted, I grew up in a time when baseball stadiums were named for their teams and not the highest corporate bidder. When professional athletes wore any brand of shoe they liked. When anything called the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl would have been regarded as a joke. I miss those times. And yes - I wish corporate greed in sports could be subordinate to tradition, but that isn't the way it is anymore.
I'm a traditionalist but I'm also a realist. And I know this kind of branding has been associated with all sports for a long time now. Quite honestly, I'm surprised the Derby's held out this long.
But I was more than a little surprised when David Novak, President of Yum! Brands said the cost of the deal was "not very much." Because as much as I understand the need to go commercial with big events these days, I'd hate to think Churchill Downs would allow something as prestigious as the Kentucky Derby to go for...chicken feed.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.