When we here at Fresh Rhetoric learned that Florida Atlantic University had sold its new football stadium’s naming rights to a company that owns and operates prisons (see story, here), our initial reaction was puzzlement and concern. Why would a university name a sports venue after an enterprise that runs jails? And why would a jail operator pay millions of dollars to paste its name on a college football stadium?
Because the questions had no obvious answers, we assigned Fresh Rhetoric’s Chief Collegiate and Correctional Affairs Correspondent—Don Chubaleevit—to ferret out the truth. What he learned–not merely about the naming of the stadium, but about additional sponsorships in the pipeline at FAU–was both surprising and illuminating.
According to Chubaleevit’s sources (all of whom requested anonymity to avoid revealing their identities), associating the campus football stadium with a company that runs correctional facilities is the purposeful employment of a proprietary FAU strategy called Behavioral Subliminality (or “BS,” for short). Concerned about the steadily increasing national phenomenon of college athletes running afoul of the law, FAU administrators hope to impart into the minds of the university’s football players the subliminal notion that prison might be closer than they think.
“These athletes tend to be coddled, even idolized,” explained one administrator, “and that can tend to have them believing they live by a different set of rules. By naming the stadium after a prison company, we hope to keep them subconsciously reminded that there are plenty of private jailers out there, and they’re all very eager to fill a bunch of cells.”
For the prison company–GEO Group–spending millions on naming rights has a less obtuse rationale: “It was a no-brainer,” said one company insider. “They gave us preferred parking, catered skyboxes, and a right of first refusal on the incarceration of any FAU athlete convicted of a felony while enrolled at the university.”
But for Florida Atlantic University, the story does not end there. According to Chubaleevit, FAU administrators–buoyed by the stadium naming windfall–now plan to expand their proprietary “BS” strategy to other areas of concern within the university community.
“By partnering with appropriate corporate sponsors,” a highly-placed university administrator told Chubaleevit, “we’re hoping, through subliminal means, to scare our students away from a variety of dangers.” Asked to address persistent university rumors that a well-known campus social venue would be renamed for the chlamydia-fighting antibiotic sold as Zithromax, Chubaleevit’s source issued an emphatic denial–although when pressed on whether the venue would be named for some other brand of similar antibiotic, the source uttered, simply, “No comment,” then abruptly terminated the conversation.