NEW ORLEANS ( MainStreet) -- Oh, the sports world has March Madness all right, but you know what March Madness doesn't have? Beer. Not one drop.
No Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and Budweiser signs scattered throughout arenas. No MolsonCoors (TAP) ads imploring fans to tap the Rockies. Nothing. What the big guys see as a loss, however, should be craft beer's shot at a Cinderella Story.
The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament is the biggest event in a college sport played by athletes predominantly below the legal drinking age. The NCAA bans alcohol sales during all its championships except football's postseason and bowls -- which it doesn't run -- and limits alcohol ads to malt beverages, beer and wine products with a sessionable 6% alcohol by volume or less. Even at that, beer ads made up less than 6% of all advertising during last year's Final Four.
That means AT&T (T), Capital One (COF) and Coca-Cola (KO) can splash their names all over the Big Dance without a care in the world while Bud and Coors have to watch the action from the cheap seats. If Allstate (ALL), Lowe's (LOW), Unilever (UN), GM (GM), UPS (UPS) or even Hershey's (HSY) come sniffing around for seats as corporate sponsor, the NCAA's answer is "Who needs two?" If Diageo (DEO) wants the tournament's help selling a bit more Guinness around St. Patrick's Day, it has to stand in the cancellation line with everyone else.
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