Thursday, March 8, 2007

ACC Game 1: FSU vs. Clemson

As Charlotte’s K.C. Rivers bumped chests with Clemson teammate James Mays during pregame introductions, his apparel and shoes were adorned with no fewer than eight logos for the company Michael Jordan’s endorsements helped transform into a sneaker powerhouse.

It’s said that NASCAR drivers are the most proficient sporting figures when it comes to turning themselves into human billboards. But as Thursday’s ACC tournament opener illustrated, the sports marketing industry also is firmly entrenched in college athletics.

The logos of the teams and the ACC were everywhere, of course. Advertising at the St. Pete Times Forum (named after a local newspaper at a reported cost of at least $2.1 million per year for 12 years) included a car company, a hotel chain, an airline, the ACC’s three basketball television partners, two home builders, a grocery store, two soft drink companies, a power company, a food manufacturer, a local radio station and an automobile company.

At least the NASCAR drivers get paid for the logos they wear. Rivers’ take from all that sponsorship – the price of his scholarship – doesn’t change, regardless of the ads they place on his jersey.

– Ken Tysiac