I don’t need to ask what you’re doing on Tuesday night. I know where you’ll be.
Like most everyone in America, you—and your family and friends—will be riveted to the television, watching every second of the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl.
Maybe you’ll actually be there on Dec. 19, enjoying the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl live in person.
Then two days later, on Thursday Dec. 21, it’s the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
The Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl—then the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl—within 48 hours?
That’s too much grand tradition, college football. Take it easy on us!
I’m being a jerk, of course. I’m under no illusion that you’re fired up for the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. Or the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Or the Frankin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Or the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Or the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Whoa, that is some ring on your finger. Where’d you get it?
Me and my team won the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl.
That’s a real name of an actual thing that exists?
Yes it is.
The arrival of the holidays doesn’t just mean shopping and weird trays of cold cuts at the office party—it also means it’s Ridiculously-Named Zombie Bowl Season.
I call them Zombie Bowls because they don’t really serve a purpose anymore. The college football playoff has effectively killed off the big bowls at the top (they still exist, but come on), making the couple of dozen or so satellite bowls in December less relevant than ever.
In other words: Zombie Bowls.
This is the part where you scold me, saying: Look, Jason, you snobby dingbat—just because the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl has a funny name doesn’t mean it’s not a meaningful experience for the young men who are playing.
And that’s true. If I were a college kid, I’m sure I’d be psyched to go to Boca Raton. I’d be psyched to go to Boca Raton right now. Get out of this frigid New York winter, and walk around in my handsome dad cargo shorts.
But that’s not why they play these games. They play them for TV. Networks like ESPN want the programming.
In 21st century parlance, Zombie Bowls are content. And every network covets content—especially the live kind.
ESPN is under no illusion that 50 million people are going to watch the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl between Temple and Florida International. But they figure it’s vaguely interesting enough to justify putting it on television—and as long as something is on television, it has meaning.
Besides, those Zombie Bowls can be mildly entertaining, especially if the competing option is socializing at your neighbor’s terrible cocktail party.
Think about it. Your choices are:
A. Standing in your neighbor’s living room talking about the tax reform plan with three boring people you don’t know.
B. Hiding in the den eating cheese puffs and watching the Bad Bowl Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
See? Zombie Bowls do have a purpose. They’re not important—but every so often, you’ll be grateful they exist. That’s why I think the Zombie Bowls could live forever, like true Zombies.
And it’s why I’m urging the sports section at The Wall Street Journal to get involved.
Like everyone in business, we’re trying to figure out our future. We want to create new revenue streams before the robots arrive and replace us all.
Why not lend our name to a Zombie Bowl? We could share the naming rights fees with a couple of other sponsors, to make it cost-effective.
I already have a name picked out: The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Discount Muffler Kangaroo Jerky Two Days After Christmas Bowl.
Just rolls off the tongue, no? I love it.
The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Discount Muffler Kangaroo Jerky Two Days After Christmas Bowl doesn’t have a location yet. But there’s an IKEA not far from me that has a gigantic parking lot. I think that could work. If IKEA gives us a good price, we could change the name to the The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Discount Muffler Kangaroo Jerky Two Days After Christmas Bowl presented by IKEA.
Over time, of course, sponsors will change. Companies go out of business, or decide that sponsoring a Zombie Bowl game makes no sense. Even if the Journal stays on, we will probably have to change our name to things like The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Organic Chemical-Free Baby Wipes Two Days After Christmas Bowl. Or the The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Sparkling Apple Cider Compact Socket Wrench Two Days After Christmas Bowl.
I know none of this is as glamorous sounding as the Rose Bowl. Of course, the Rose Bowl isn’t even called the Rose Bowl anymore. This year, its full name is the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual.
I’m not kidding. If you’re a rose, it’s enough to make you throw up.
But I do think a network will be interested in televising The Wall Street Journal Sports Section Discount Muffler Kangaroo Jerky Two Days After Christmas Bowl.
And the players? Wow, will those kids be excited when they open up their goody bags with a print copy of The Wall Street Journal, a discount muffler and a delicious bag of Kangaroo Jerky.
After all, the college football season does eventually end. But Kangaroo Jerky lasts forever.
Write to Jason Gay at Jason.Gay@wsj.com