More like Red Bullsh*t

Last Thursday Red Bull Co. Ltd. purchased a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, the New Jersey/New York Metrostars, for an estimated $30 million. These transactions are commonplace in today’s sports business world, teams change hands more often than Doyle Brunson. However, this deal came with a small catch. The new name of the team is (take a deep breath)…Red Bull New York. That’s right, the Red Bull everyone chugs now owns a MLS team and has decided that it is appropriate to change its name to the company’s name. As a sports fan I am absolutely horrified. Is this what it has come to? Companies need to advertise so badly that we can’t even refer to a team without creating a small commercial? The team’s management is comforting people by saying that the team will be casually referred to as the “New York Red Bulls,” but even that doesn’t change the fact that their logo is now the energy drink’s two bulls preparing to ram heads.Fans have put up with plenty of corporate interference in our beloved sports. Most of us probably couldn’t identify a NASCAR car without its sponsor’s decals (I’ll save my complaints about the ridiculed Viagra and ironic Smirnoff cars for another day). In fact, many people enjoyed when tire-manufacturing juggernaut Goodyear paid Detroit Pistons’ guard Richard Hamilton to have his cornrows styled to look like their newest treads. These commercial tactics don’t and shouldn’t offend the public; they don’t grotesquely intrude into sports’ small haven. Most sports fans not only understand the limits of this haven but also come to a general consensus of where the limits lie. In 2004 Columbia Pictures announced that it was going to place 6-by-6 inch Spider-Man 2 ads on the first, second and third bases in Yankee Stadium during inter-league play. MLB officials first looked as if they were going to approve the plan and put the wheels in motion to complete the $3.6 million deal. However, the agreement was stopped when fans became vocal about preserving the purity of the game. In an ESPN.com SportsNation poll 79.4%, nearly 45,000 sports fans, voted baseball would be “selling out” if they allowed the web-crawler to adorn the bases. Many feel that polls like this prevented the placement of the ads. The blatant use of a franchise’s name to peddle power drinks may not even be the worst crime committed by the Red Bull Corporation. The worst may be the subtraction of New Jersey from the team name. The Metrostars had been referred to as New Jersey/New York until 2003 when the previous owners severed New Jersey from the name. Now it appears as if New Jersey will never return despite the fact that the team both plays and is headquartered in New Jersey. This move makes the team name sound flashier, and some focus group probably thought that without “New Jersey” in the name the team appeared more marketable. Alienating a large portion of a fan-base for such transparent reasons borders on treason, breaking the bonds of trust forged between team owners and fans. Gone are the days of Fenway Park, Soldier Field and Camden Yards. Welcome to the age of PetCo Park, US Cellular Field and the TD BankNorth Garden. We will all watch the sports world embrace moneymaking tactics while distancing itself from its original purity for years to come. It is our responsibility to save our sports from the harsh reality of the real world and help to maintain its innocence. We should get off the couch, turn off ESPN, and raise our voices. If nobody does anything I might end up being forced to root for the Chicago CostCo Cubs playing at Monistat Cooling Wipes Field.