July 31, 2021

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PNC Bank recently renewed its naming rights for the pirate baseball park. And so it will continue to be named after a corporate giant instead of Clemente Park or something similar for the next 10 years.

I’ve been campaigning against the naming rights of companies for a long time, but I think I’m just turning a bit of a derecho. Money talks.

We found out last week when Michigan State University, one of the best research institutions in the world, issued a press release announcing that it would rename their men’s basketball team to “MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage.”

You may remember the Rocket Mortgage commercial during the Super Bowl where comedian Tracy Morgan took a bubble bath while talking to a family of four who needed a bigger house. I understand the children in this ad are in counseling.

As the Yahoo sports journalist put the MSU announcement: “It’s wild to see a legitimate college basketball team, no less a strength program, revealing its name to the advertising gods.”

The backlash was pretty severe and a day after the MSU issued the press release, it stepped down, saying it would not rename the team. Rocket Mortgage is simply a sponsor of the sports division, as it has been since 2015.

I’m really excited about the linchpin of the university (that’s a basketball term) in renaming the team. It seems this company name thing may have gone a little too far.

I wonder how Bob Huggins might have reacted if West Virginia University had renamed their team WVU Mountaineers, presented by Jack Links Jerky. It wouldn’t have been nice. (Though I would have liked to see how red his face would have turned.)

It’s ridiculous that we can’t pay college athletes who make billions in college sports, but for some programs – Michigan State, I’m looking at you – changing names to include corporate sponsors is worth a penalty .

I know it’s been a terrible year for the sport. Both professional and collegial teams lost a lot of money during the pandemic. But when do you endanger your integrity and allow corporate interests to turn your players into billboards?

I hope the MSU debacle has at least put a brake on this stupidity of naming rights.

I also heard that the school canceled plans for Tracy Morgan to sing the national anthem.

James Logue, presented by Billy Bob’s Tattoo Parlor and Storm Door Center, can be reached at [email protected]