There are signs posted around Ottawa for Canada’s 150th birthday. This would seem to be a worthwhile cause. However, they prominently feature a sponsor name next to the emblem. One cannot help wondering if there’s no limit to such pervasiveness: even the promotion of a national sesquicentennial is not immune to association with patronage.
Moreover, given each logo’s overt visibility, someone unfamiliar with the situation might muse about whether the event is more significant than the sponsor.
We can acknowledge, realistically, that financial backing and support have their place. Indeed, the viability of some events or groups often hinge on some degree of this.
Sports teams, and their home stadiums, arenas, etc., are increasingly subject to the prominence of sponsorship logos. Over time the sight lines of spectators have become unavoidably vulnerable to being distracted by their presence.
Ironically, the evolution into a crowded presence has become so universal that some of us may have the capacity to react to the blurbs as to ‘elevator music’, a background blur. Those paying that freight may not be happy; perhaps that’s why in some venues, the facility response has been to enhance sponsor visibility, with electronic flashes and other movements, shifts of colour, and so on, to draw the eyes of attendees away periodically from what they paid for and came to see.
Meanwhile, purists and archivists will recall, perhaps wistfully, bygone times when the only overtly visible characters in the game were the performers and the markers necessary to mark the field of play.
That said, shouldn’t here be lines in the sand on occasion?
One would hope that significant, historically related celebrations should be protected behind those lines, at least enough that the event symbols may be viewed as more than foils to their promoters.
Let’s remember that the starting points, and attention, to many milestones when first celebrated did not have to compete with the add-on of interposed paid-for associations. As noted, lower profile community happenings abound where sponsorship is helpful, even vital. National celebrations, though, ought not be part of this equation.