Ads could give schools needed revenue

/ 27 October 2011 / Parents United

Rochester Post-Bulletin Editorial, October 27, 2011 –

Would you be offended by seeing corporate logos on the scoreboard at a high school football game? Or how about hearing these words from the public address announcer: “This timeout sponsored by ___, the official sports drink of Mayo Spartans basketball!”

Well, we wouldn’t be offended — especially if the revenue raised by such advertising meant that student athletic fees would decrease, marching bands would once again take the field during halftime and a full-time vocational education teacher were added at every middle school in town. In fact, we wish that those signs, billboards, logos and commercials were already commonplace at athletic events and concerts across the city.

But better late than never. The Rochester School Board is formally considering a proposal that would give individual schools a lot more flexibility in pursuing commercial advertising that would be placed in hallways, gymnasiums and auditoriums, and ball fields.

Guidelines and restrictions would be necessary, of course. A high school soccer field is no place for a beer advertisement, and a high school auditorium shouldn’t be graced with a Hooters sign, a GoDaddy logo or — heaven help us — a Viagra billboard. And we’d prefer that the athletes, cheerleaders and musicians not be required to wear uniforms and outfits that are covered with patches and logos. This is high school, not NASCAR.

Granted, we don’t know how much revenue the schools could rake in and probably won’t for quite some time. Potential advertisers will need to see evidence that they will get a good return on their investment.

But really, this plan could be a winner for just about everyone. Our schools could get a much-needed infusion of money that could provide a little relief in a lot of cash-strapped areas. Local businesses would be able to reach a huge market with their advertising messages, and local consumers might even be persuaded to spend more of their money here, with local companies.

The connection between local businesses and youth sports already is solid. On any given evening in spring, summer or fall, check out the action at a soccer complex or baseball diamond and you’ll find dozens of youngsters whose team T-shirts bear the name and logos of local businesses. It’s a great way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to kids and the community — and also helps keep the players’ costs down.

So don’t look at advertising at school facilities as “selling out.” Rather, see it as another way that communities can partner with schools to increase opportunities for our young people.