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HCC naming rights has its possibilities

May 05, 1999

In one of Infinite Jest's estimated 12,494 baffling tangents, David Foster Wallace theorizes on what conditions might bring about the death of advertising.

The downfall begins when television shows begin to enter the home primarily through home computers, which can be easily programmed to sense increases in volume, or other tags present in commercials, and simply weed them out.

Things get worse for Madison Avenue when technology increases to the point where viewers click on the programming packages they wish to see like they are ordering onion rings off a menu. There's a per-package charge, but the upside is that there is no limit to selection and shows are advertisement-free.

Commercials being swept from the airwaves, the industry naturally rushes to billboards and other signage, which runs into problems of its own to the point that fans won't even support a NASCAR driver who sells out to advertisers.

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Personally, I think Wallace is dreaming, and so I think it's safe for the Hagerstown Community College Foundation to proceed with its plan to sell naming rights to campus buildings and lecture halls, right on down to parking lots and elevators.

For example, you might find yourself attending a basketball game at the Nike Athletic and Recreation Community Center. At least I hope it's Nike and not something longer, such as Play It Again Sports.

Where's the game tonight? Oh, it's at the Hagerstown Community College Gallager and Forsythe/Wenger Swiss Army Knife Co. Inc. Athletic and Recreation Community Center.

Of course the center has already been shortened to ARCC, which they pronounce "ark." Bowman trucking might want to get in on the action, which could give us the "BARCC."

So might Hoffman Clothiers, particularly if he could get The Herald-Mail, the law offices of Peter G. Angelos and the Singh-Ray Photo Corp. to go along.

Anyone who by now has not figured out where I'm headed with this (HARCC the Herald Angelos Singh) probably ought to stop reading now and take the cordless and the Cheetos back out on the stoop.

The Foundation says it has veto power over any corporate sponsorship, so I'll guess they will be acting in the interest of taste, which is too bad since I would like to see the Anhauser-Busch tractor-trailer driving school or the ACLU religious studies class.

I wish they'd just stick to selling sponsorships of the buildings, though, without selling off every last classroom, elevator and doorknob inside the buildings.

It lowers professorial standing in my mind when the teacher has to instruct students that the English lit class will be held in the Converse All-Stars classroom located in the Diet Coke wing of the Microsoft computer lab on the J. Crew floor of the Procter and Gamble Advanced Technical Center.

This leads to too many questions, the first being "Why are you holding English classes in a science building?"

And what if Kentucky Fried Chicken wants its name on the HCC Wellness Center? Technically, Wellness Center Director Dr. Mathew McIntosh could make a killing if he wants to sell sponsorships to each individual exercise bike, each weight machine and each individual towel. I'm not saying how far he could go with this, but with one well-placed Fila logo he might consider replacing his "Bald is beautiful" signs with "Bald is profitable."

The possibilities are endless. CHIEF could name a building after itself and then, amid much fanfare, tear it down. Vincent Groh could put his name on the library, since in my day the library was usually empty anyway. Or the County Commissioners could buy a lecture hall outright and name it after whoever will send them on the most golf trips.

Everything has its price.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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