The New Orleans Convention Company today confirmed that State Farm Insurance will end its long run as the title sponsor of the annual Bayou Classic. The most recognizable brand in black college football now seeks a new sponsor that will sweeten the pot to continue its run on network television, and its pipeline of funding to Grambling State and Southern.
You can’t blame State Farm for the split; attendance at the game has been up and down for more than 10 years, Southern football has yet to hit its competitive peak under Stump Mitchell, and the most alluring part of the game – the halftime show – is often cut short by NBC Sports to the home viewing audience.
But the game does have constant benefits for State Farm, benefits that they won’t find making eyes with the Essence Music Festival. State Farm has built a great reputation with the black college community in large part through its partnership with this classic, a partnership that isn’t lost on the students who’ve graduated and become family and corporate policy holders with the company through the years.
Why would State Farm seek to back out of an event as branded with the City of New Orleans as Mardi Gras itself? The Bayou Classic extends far beyond the game, the band battle and the parade; it is national bragging rights for the two schools and their role in a long-standing HBCU tradition.
Even bigger, its one of only things in the world that will bring Bobby Jindal out in support of black colleges.
Good neighbors recognize the value of supporting Black America through access to higher education. State Farm has been a generous benefactor to Grambling and Southern by way of its Bayou Classic support, and countless other athletic and institutional initiatives at HBCUs. But the Bayou Classic is something bigger than a check presentation; its one of the events all Black Americans can embrace and support.