Interesting read in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette about banks and other financial institutions spending big bucks to slap their corporate logos on high school sports venues. The article cites a local deal in which Commerce Bank & Trust bid $1 million for naming rights at Foley Stadium high school field, now "Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium."
It's easy to decry this as a distressing escalation in the commercialization and professionalization of sports for kids, which it clearly is. But at least the local bank is writing a big check to the school system.
Compare that to the fee schedule over at ESPN. The sports net has been telecasting high school football games going back 20 years. In 2002 ESPN carried possibly the most-watched high school basketball game of all time: the national TV debut of LeBron James while he was still a high school junior. More recently ESPN has made a major push into prep coverage. In 2007, ESPN2 and ESPNU aired 19 high school football games from 15 different states.
For an article in the Sports Business Journal, I interviewed administrators at two Maryland schools - Good Counsel and DeMatha - that had recently played a football game on ESPN. I asked about the payday. Each school received $1,000.