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Terence Smith Headshot

Yuletide, Bowltide

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I don't know about you, but I love this time of the year: Christmas, New Year's, the turkey, the mistletoe, all the traditions that make it special.

Like the Papajohn's.com Bowl.

That holiday football classic pitted South Florida against East Carolina this year, just before Christmas. If you missed it, don't worry. This season, you can also watch the FedEx Orange Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, the Toyota Gator Bowl, the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridgestone.

There is also the Outback Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, the Motor City Bowl, the GMAC Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, the Champs Sports Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

At least the Rose Bowl, the queen of all the post-season college classics, is still the Rose Bowl...but its proper name now is The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi.

It is the perfect symbiosis of holiday tradition and the American free enterprise system. Virtually nothing has been left unlabeled. Once a named-game gets underway, you can try to answer The Aflac Trivia Question, see the Offensive Lineup presented by Outback, or watch a recap courtesy of the Southwest Airlines Playbook. And there is suspense: who will be the Cingular All-American Player-of-the-Week? Or the Chevrolet Players of the Game?

It is not just the college game that has branded every moment for your pleasure. Tune into any "Fox NFL Sunday" and you can vote for the FedEx Air and Ground Play of the week. There's the Kia Pre-Game Show, the Visa Halftime Report and the A.T.&T. Postgame Report. On Christmas Day, there was the Chevrolet Pre-game Countdown before the Cowboys-Eagles matchup.

If you enjoy thoroughbred racing, you probably caught the Emirates Air Breeder's Cup, which was "powered by Dodge." The trophy presentation in the winner's circle was fun to watch, until the Century 21 sign obscured Ashley Judd's face as she handed over the cup.

There is no reason why this marketing magic has to be limited to televised sports. The government could offset the ballooning budget deficit by selling naming rights to some of its chief attractions. Like the Lockheed-Martin Pentagon, or the Goldman Sachs Treasury, or the Weyerhaeuser Interior Department. How about the Iraq war brought to you by Halliburton? Or The NASDAQ Social Security System? Or the Pfizer Prescription Drug Program?

Public broadcasting always needs money. MacDonald's National Public Radio would be a nice thank-you to the late Joan Kroc for her generous gifts. The Archer Daniels Midland NewsHour would recognize a long-time underwriter.

These are all possibilities to consider as we get ready for the Big Game, the Bowl Championship Series playoff between Ohio State and Florida on January 8 to determine the top collegiate team in the country. It is generally known as the BCS Bowl. Excuse me, that's the "Tostitos BCS Bowl."

-- Terence Smith