Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

eehhh,...'The Boat Race'

I have to confess that my left eyebrow shivered a little when I read the news that the annual Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race – commonly known as ‘The Boat Race’ – the other day changed its name to The Xchanging Boat Race!

Xchanging, which is a global business processing company, became involved with ‘The Boat Race’ five years ago as a sponsor. In 2008, the company renewed its sponsorship for five more years. And then the other day, Xchanging became a so called title sponsor for ‘The Boat Race’.

Nowadays, it is quite an ordinary thing that sport teams, sport arenas, and sport events sell themselves (and might I add, their souls) to larger business companies. I am sad that the organizers of the ‘The Boat Race’ and Oxford and Cambridge have felt that they should do so, too. Especially, to a company that I cannot even pronounce correctly.

Of course, just as the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race has been called ‘The Boat Race’, The Xchanging Boat Race can in the future be known as – ‘The Boat Race’.


  1. Eh? The name sponsor’s is very easy to pronounce, "X" and then "changing" put it together “Xchanging”. As for the Boat Race selling its soul to the big business man, I think you will find that that their soul requires the latest in high tech rowing boats, the best coaching, winter training abroad as well as to remain on terrestrial TV and be televised live around the world, now my friend this does not come for free! Renaming the Boat Race is part of the evolution of sponsorship, just as the Boat Race itself has evolved from its humble beginnings in 1829, so too must the sponsorship which funds the Race you so adore.

  2. Dear Anonymous - thank you for clarifying how to pronounce X-changing. It might seem that I am against Xchanging sponsoring ‘The Boat Race’ - which, yes, I do adore - well I am not! What bothers me is that a company’s name is added to a perfectly good name, ‘The Boat Race’ To me, it seems the organizers and Oxbridge did very well with paying coaches, going to training camps, etc even before Xchanging became title sponsor. And I do believe that it is the tv-channels that pay Oxbridge, and not the other way around. Here in the U.S. I have seen how sport arenas change names every five years (or whenever the contract runs out), i.e. Boston Garden turning into Fleet [bank] Center, then Bank of America Center, and now, when I passed the stadium 2 hours ago, it is called TD Garden, another bank. The point is, when, some years in the future, Xchanging is not sponsoring ’The Boat Race’ anymore, is it going to the highest bidder, so we will have the most prestigious rowing event in the world being called, ‘The Disney Boat Race’, or ‘The Burger King Boat Race’, or something else preposterous? Who knows? I guess, I am too old-fashioned…