Thursday, September 10, 2015

Name Your Price

Do you know Kabam? Not Kaboom, the breakfast cereal with the clown on the box and the "vitamins" inside. Nor is it the service organization made popular on Parks and Recreation, the one that made building playgrounds tons of fun. Nope. We're talking about Kabam. Not a breakfast cereal or service organization. Not even a cartoon sound effect. Kabam is a software company. They make online games for people like you and me to while away our hours when we might or should be doing something productive. Like Candy Crush, it's a saga where you crush candy.
Now, if you told me that Candy Crush would be interested in sponsoring the field on which the California Golden Bears play football, it would seem like a necessary evil. Nope. That distinction belongs to Kabam. Up in Strawberry Canyon, the Bears now roam on Kabam Field at Memorial Stadium. We know this because it is painted on the grass between the twenty and thirty yard lines. It's advertising. It's football. It's America. What's wrong with that?
Well, it's college football, and since the stadium already had a name, Memorial Stadium, it does make you wonder what is not for sale. The stadium in Berkeley was built in the 1920's with public funds as, the name suggests, a memorial to those who died in World War I. Back when it was not one in a series. It was, back then, "The War to end all wars." That assertion turned out to be sadly unfounded. There were plenty more wars, but the Memorial stood. It was rededicated to those Californians who died in all those conflicts that came after number one.
And then, the following year, a group of very bright Cal graduates offered the school eighteen million dollars to put their software company's name in front of that memorial. They get to do that for fifteen years. In the software world, that's forever. I know. I lived past the ignominy of Invesco and then Sports Authority putting their companies' names in front of Mile High Stadium. Where the Broncos play professional football. Corporations paying top dollar to put their names and logos on things is incredibly American. The NFL recently started allowing sponsors to stick patches on players' practice uniforms during the preseason. Why should it matter that the college field up the road has a new name? There are plenty of institutions ready to line up for the kind of payday that the University of California has. Putting on a sporting event five or six times a year isn't cheap, after all. Sacrifices have to be made.

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