In June, I wrote a short essay entitled Apple Field Forever. In it, I complained about the ongoing movement to sell the name of every sports venue in the country. At the end of the post, I added this mock prediction:
Why hasn't this become more common in amateur stadiums and fields across the country? I know a few high school and Little League stadiums have advertising, but I'm still surprised Ben doesn't play at McDonald's Field, Toys 'R Us Park, or Chuck E. Cheese Stadium. Instead, the poor boy has to to play at Glenwick and Hilltop Parks.
Well, the wait is over. The NYT has an unfortunate article [free registration required] on how the initial experiment with local school naming rights has officially become a trend.
Deals, worth millions of dollars, are being made around the country with companies as large as Nike and as small as a tire shop. Everything from gyms to ticket stubs seems to have a price.
[One school] has a price list and is waiting for more buyers: $5,000 to sponsor the jump circle at the center of the gym floor; $2,500 for advertising near the baseline; $500 for a banner on the wall.
What is particularly frustrating about this is how oblivious school boards are to the mixed messages they are sending. Most districts are currently obsessed with the poor health of American students, yet a Krispy Kreme logo dominates the end zone.
We've even had a minor experience with this in our short elementary life. Presumably to protect the books and extend their use, Ben's third grade text books have to be securely wrapped in paper. But rather than give the student blank paper to decorate, the students are given a giant page of advertisting to wrap around each textbook!
The irony continues. Our local school district has recently cut down on any birthday celebration for the children. No dessert or special treat (i.e. cupcakes) can be brought in on a child's birthday to share with his or her class, either purchased (bad for you!) or homemade (dangerous!). So, what would you guess one of his text books is now covered with?
Mrs. Baird's sweets, pastries, and desserts!
As Steve Martin said in Roxanne: "Oh, irony! Oh, no, we don't get that here."