Cascade Cup?

Gridiron excellence means

it’s time to purge ‘Civil War’

This may be punting into the wind, but the people of the state of Oregon should consider a modest proposal having to do with the athletic contest for which it is mobilizing on Saturday.

It is time to get rid of the term “Civil War.”

In the actual American Civil War, 600,000 people died in the only conflict in which Americans killed fellow Americans.

Also, a modern reality — a war looming in Iraq — compels the retiring of “Civil War” as an athletic term.

Oregonians should purge its use for anything other than what it really means.

“Apple Cup” is what our neighbors in Washington call the annual test between the Cougars and Huskies. The rivalry is just as fierce as the OSU-Oregon one — sometimes more so — yet the Evergreen State’s nickname for the game is much kinder. It also reflects something important about Washington, its apple trade.

Changing the nickname takes nothing away from the fact that the football game in Corvallis between the Beavers and the Ducks is the state’s prime athletic event. It will remain so until, and probably beyond, the unlikely day the Blazers host the NBA Finals.

Of course, the Beavers’ and Ducks’ success in the past 6-8 years is a turnabout from the football mediocrity that Oregonians on both sides of the university fence had grown used to in the previous 20 years. The 2002 season has been a slight disappointment in Eugene and Corvallis, but contests between teams with records on the order of 3-8 are a thing of the past.

Oregon and Oregon State universities have replaced mediocrity with excellence — all the more reason to replace a negative nickname with something ennobling, or at least endearing.

So here are three suggested alternatives for the presidents and athletic directors of both schools to get behind:

Fir Cup — reflecting the state tree, Douglas Fir.

Pear Bowl — continuing the Northwest fruit theme; pears are the main crop in Hood River and Jackson counties, at both ends of the state.

Cascade Cup — for though mountains divide us, a violent name should not.

Ad nauseam

Product images keep sneaking in

Prepare yourself: The line between programming and advertising on television is going to get even more blurred.

This unhappy development comes as a byproduct of new technology. Viewers with the right equipment are zapping the commercials out of TV programs, using personal video recording systems such as ReplayTV and TiVo. It’s no surprise that networks are looking to retaliate by working the ads right into the programming itself.

Fine Living, a cable network started up in March by Scripps Networks (which also owns the Food Network and Home & Garden Television) is leading the way, with a couple of new takes on old TV program tricks to keep advertising content on the screen.

Old enough to remember General Electric Theater? (Hosting it didn’t hurt Ronald Reagan’s career back in the 1950s.) Like that early TV series, all the Fine Living shows are available for sponsorship. Sponsors get the name of their company and logo splashed on screen prominently as part of the show’s identity.

Fine Living programs also run special highlight segments that supposedly elaborate on show content, but their real purpose is obvious: displaying the names and logos of sponsors and sometimes even the sponsors’ products.

The latter is just a new wrinkle in product placement, the venerable art that has been around about as long as TV. One of the first such deals was struck way back in 1952, when Hoover agreed to pay the makers of “I Love Lucy” every time a character was shown looking happy and relaxed while using a Hoover vacuum cleaner.

Since then there have been too many instances to count on screens large and small, including Reese’s Pieces on “ET: The Extra Terrestrial” and the Ray-Ban glasses in “Men in Black.” Junior Mints made out well thanks to a prominent role in an episode of “Seinfeld.”

What will viewers get for watching all the new stealth ads coming their way? No commercial break whatsoever.

— Reprinted from The Sacramento Bee.

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