SUGAR SWEETENS ITS POT
The Sugar Bowl is dead, long live the USF&G Sugar Bowl! That's the name of the new football game to be played in New Orleans each New Year's Day. Last week the 52-year-old Sugar Bowl entered into a five-year agreement with the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Company, a firm that in the past has sponsored golf and tennis tournaments. In exchange for a large but undisclosed sum of money, USF&G receives ticket options, invitations to parties, ad space in the program and the all-important "name sponsorship." The fact sheet handed out at last week's announcement brags: "The Sugar Bowl becomes the first of the four major New Year's Day bowls to gain name-sponsor involvement, the necessity for the future."
The necessity? Is the FTD Rose Bowl inevitable? The Tropicana Orange Bowl? Don't bet against it, say the folks at the Sugar...er, USF&G Sugar Bowl. The unstable climate in TV sports has left uncertain the prospect of lucrative network contracts (SI, Feb. 24). The Sugar Bowl in particular has been hard hit by new realities. Trounced in the ratings for three straight years by the Orange Bowl, the game hasn't made the folks at ABC Sports happy about their $4 million-a-year contract. That deal expires Jan. 1, and the Bowl committee sensed it might be on shaky ground in negotiations if the ratings don't improve this time around. A more stable financial base was needed. Six weeks ago Sugar Bowl officials let it be known that the game was for sale, and now the bowl has its security blanket. "We're extremely excited about this agreement, because it most certainly insures the future financial security of the Sugar Bowl," says Thomas C. Wicker, president of the Sugar Bowl. Jack Moseley, chairman of USF&G, says, "Sponsoring the Sugar Bowl is an absolutely wonderful marketing opportunity...the Sugar Bowl enables us to associate with a unique national event—a real piece of Americana."
So everybody's happy. But what about Joe Fan? Does he enjoy seeing his hallowed events, his pieces of Americana, turned into billboards? Even USF&G is sensitive about this point. "I can understand that; the old-school side of me says, This is a bit heretical," says W. Minor Carter, a USF&G vice-president who was instrumental in making the Sugar Bowl deal. "I can understand their concern, but that's the way we're going to go. I can only seek to assure them that we're not going to mess with the Sugar Bowl."
DOWN THE TUBE
Suppose they gave a hockey game and nobody watched? That happened in the New York television market for one half-hour last Wednesday night. While the American League playoff game between the Red Sox and the Angels attracted 37% of those who were watching TV, the audience for Channel 9's Blackhawks-Rangers telecast was too small even to measure.
PLAYING HARDBALL IN SOFTBALL
Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, a former running back for the San Francisco 49ers, obviously hasn't forgotten how to play rough. Two weeks ago, during a league championship softball game between Pete's Posse and the County-USC Medical Center team, Schabarum, trying to score from third on an infield grounder, creamed the catcher. The score was tied 5-5 in the seventh when Schabarum, who had been tagged out by the catcher three innings earlier, stormed home. "If you're interested in getting across the plate, somebody's gotta give," said Schabarum after the game. "The lady was standing flat square in the middle of the plate."
The lady? That's right: Margie Morales is a 50-year-old grandmother of five who stands 5'1" and weighs 135 pounds. "I saw that look on his face, and I knew I was going to get it," she said. "He plowed into me like a train." Morales held onto the ball, Schabarum was called out and a bench-clearing brawl ensued. Then Morales was taken to a hospital, where she was examined and released. The Posse went on to win the game 10-9 in 10 innings for its fifth straight league title. Should opponents think a chastened Schabarum will go easier next year, they might consider that the supervisor hasn't expressed remorse over the incident—in fact, he has said he would do it again.
NEW BLOOD IN THE IOC
Four new members were elected to the International Olympic Committee last week, among them two former Olympic activists. The Congo's Jean-Claude Ganga, 52, was secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa in 1976. As such he was the organizer of the 26-nation African boycott of the Montreal Games. Now he joins the organization that, by not taking a strong stand on apartheid, once moved him to protest.