Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A field by any other name

It's bad enough when athletic teams decide that their playing fields need corporate sponsorship - witness, for example, the Houston Astros, who moved from the aptly-named Astrodome to something called Enron Field. Critics promptly dubbed it Ten-Run Field for its ridiculously-short left field, ridiculously-large center field (complete with a hill topped by an in-play flagpole), and terrible Astro pitching staff. (And you wondered why they went after Roger Clemens so hard two years ago?)

Well, we all know what happened to Enron (the company). In 2002, their erstwhile ballyard became Minute Maid Field for the tidy sum of $28 million. I always thought that the field was the team's and not the company's, but for that money...

The trend has spread, and now individual elements of the games are also sponsored. Said Minute Maid Field has something called Conoco Home Run Alley (with that many homers, maybe it needs its own name). When the Philadelphia Flyers go a man up, the announcer cries out, "Here comes the PECO Power Play!" PECO is the Pennsylvania Electric Company (get it?), which makes it no less ridiculous.

Colleges don't do that sort of thing for money (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more!), but they make up for it by stacking names on top of each other, as if the stadia were brands of razor and the names were blades - more is better. Current leader in the Gilette JetBlue Xerox Clubhouse is The University of Virginia. Their footballers (ahem, student athletes) play in the Carl Smith Center, on the David A Harrison III Field, at Scott Stadium. Faced with this preponderance of nomenclature, one wonders what poor Scott did to rate a mere mononym.

Do the announcers have to spit all of that out at the beginning of every telecast? We'd miss kickoff before we heard which two teams were playing. That's why, though it's kind of a dump, I like Shea Stadium. It's named for the fellow who helped bring National League baseball back to New York City.

UVA ought to pick one name and stick with it. We are supposed to be teaching the student athletes how to make good choices, right? (Graduate, work hard, don't play for the Arizona Cardinals.) Lead by example.

No comments: