SI Vault
May 08, 2000
Lord Stanley RulesWhy the NHL's postseason is the best in all of sports
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May 08, 2000


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?Because goals come in an eye blink and one or two can win a game, which means you should get a discount on your seat since you only use the edge of it.

?Because after knocking one another's heads into Plexiglas for an entire series, the bearded, toothless, sworn enemies line up and shake hands.

?Because of the Stanley Cup, the world's most storied, most anthropomorphized trophy. Each member of the championship team gets a day to drink lager out of Stanley and snuggle up beside him. Players have been taking such turns with the Cup for better than 100 years, each reaping his own reward for surviving the NHL playoffs, which on final thought may indeed be the greatest show on earth.
—Kostya Kennedy

Connecting The Dots

And then there were 25. The NCAA's approval of two more college bowl games for next season ensures that 50 of the 114 major college football teams will receive a postseason berth and further turns the bowl season into dotcom season. Last year the Citrus Bowl joined the list of dotcom bowls—there are now five and counting—when it signed up after former title sponsor CompUSA pulled out of a naming-rights deal that had three years and $9 million left on it. "I'll admit that not one of us [on the Citrus Bowl executive selection committee] had ever heard of," says Carol Monroe, an exec with the Orlando game, "but they had such a strong financial backing."

In turn the home improvement E-tailer, which had launched just six weeks before the New Year's Day game, reaped big rewards. It has had nearly 3 million new visitors since Jan. 1, 7% of whom say they learned about the site by watching the Citrus Bowl.

Experts say the amount of exposure received by a title sponsor roughly equals 100 30-second TV spots, so naming rights allow little-known sites to make indelible impressions. "The average guy isn't paying attention to commercials anyway," says Eric Wright of Joyce Julius & Associates, which tracks how many times sponsors' names are mentioned and how much airtime their logos receive on-screen during a sporting event. "But when they're engrossed in the game, they can't help but notice the logo behind the goalposts."

Banking on bowl power is Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, where the Bowl will debut on Dec. 27. "I'm a marketing man," says McIngvale, who has also slapped his company's Web address on backdrops at ATP tour events, Belmont Park and Enron Field. "I saw this as an opportunity to increase sales by $4 million to $5 million."

The other new bowl, the Silicon Valley Football Classic in San Jose, has yet to sign a title sponsor, but executive director Chuck Shelton says nearly a dozen companies have expressed "serious interest." Rest assured that given the name of the game, there are more than a few dotcoms in that dash for sponsorship.

Winged Victory
When he won the April 15 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by 4� lengths, running the fastest Kentucky Derby prep race of 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus gave evidence of what had long been suspected—that he's not only the most talented 3-year-old in the U.S., but also potentially the best colt since Sunday Silence dueled with Easy Goer in 1989. Not that he is a mortal lock to win Saturday's Derby. With only five lifetime starts, Fusaichi Pegasus lacks the hard-boned seasoning of The Deputy, the whippet-tough bay that won the Santa Anita Derby, and High Yield, the hard-knocking winner of the Blue Grass Stakes. His pedigree makes him suspect at 10 furlongs, and he appears to be flaky, even neurotic in temperament, which engenders doubt about how he will handle the circus atmosphere of Derby Day. His abundant raw talent aside, Fusaichi Pegasus has one great leveler in his corner, a confident Neil Drysdale, one of America's wisest and most creative trainers.

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