The NCAA Isn't Messing Around With Its March Madness Cup Policy
Imagine you’re a freshman in college again. You’re at your very first frat party. The music’s pumping, the people are dancing and you’re with a group of friends you swear you’ll stick with for the rest of your life. Times are good, life couldn’t get any better and you’ve managed to forget about that paper that’s due Monday, at least for the time being.
You reach into your back pocket, and pull out that can of beer you snuck into and out of your dorm while imagining yourself to be some sort of suave, covert operative. You’ve been waiting all week to drink that first beer. Cracking it open, you hear the crisp sound of air entering the carbonated oasis nestled within that perfectly round aluminum resting in your hand as if it was made for your sweaty, slightly nervous embrace. Lifting the can to your lips, you can’t help but smile about the refreshment you are so close to experiencing. It’s just like the commercials, like every great college movie you’ve ever seen.
Then some frat boy smacks the can out of your hand. He reaches into your pocket, extracts your wallet and pulls out five bucks. Handing you a plastic cup, he looks into your eyes, then says “House cups only. Keg’s in the basement.”
How’d those lifelong friendships turn out? Just wondering.
Anyway, we thought this would be a fine analogy for the NCAA’s cup policy, which requires anyone and everyone at its championship events to drink from NCAA-approved beverage receptacles. This means that folks have to pour out any liquids stored in offending containers into blue paper NCAA/Powerade cups.
NCAA cups. Collect them all pic.twitter.com/zWhI9poOPI
— Jason Ashcraft (@JaseTheAce41) March 16, 2017
SB Nation provided the official policy, provided to them via email from the NCAA itself:
The NCAA will provide the necessary equipment/product for all media and team areas. POWERADE (Coca-Cola) branded equipment/product must be available for all practice sessions and games. Participating teams must use the NCAA-issued coolers, cups and water (squeeze) bottles while in the facility on practice and game days.
POWERADE and DASANI bottled product may be used courtside by media, staff, and coaches. Student-athletes are to use the cups and water (squeeze) bottles provided. No other cups, cans, coolers or water (squeeze) bottles or bottled products, may be used in locker rooms, courtside, or in the media areas. Generic napkins are to be used in the media refreshment and buffet areas. These items may not bear any commercial marks. All other cups should not have any commercial advertising.
While this may seem utterly authoritarian, even by the NCAA’s standards, it makes sense from a sponsorship standpoint. Coca-Cola is one of only three “corporate champion sponsors” for the NCAA, the other two being Capital One and AT&T. That means that Coke pays a ton of money to make sure that everyone at NCAA contests like March Madness or the Frozen Four is drinking from its branded cups. In order to maintain the exclusivity of its corporate sponsorships, the NCAA has no choice but to police any and all cup-usage.
Excited to help the @SpokesmanSports #Gonzaga coverage team in Boise this week. More importantly, I'm excited to enjoy my coffee & soft drinks exclusively out of cups with NCAA branding. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/AGqNRE7cW3
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) March 12, 2018
Spectators and members of the media: consider yourselves warned.