What's in a name? Money
At Vernon Hills High School, the new football stadium will bear the name of a paintmaker and the $80,000 scoreboard will be sponsored by a computer company.
Commercialism in sports is hardly new, even at the prep level, but it's a route cash-strapped schools are taking with greater frequency to pay for new athletic facilities.
And what started as exclusive beverage contracts has mushroomed to big-dollar deals for stadium naming rights and apparel.
Critics say such agreements, like the one in the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills, made with paint maker Rust-Oleum, exploit youngsters.
"This is a town that's slapping a 'For Sale' sign on its school and its students," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, which tracks commercialization in schools. Illinois officials believe Rust-Oleum Field will be the state's first school stadium named for a corporation when it opens in October.
An uneasy sense of familiarity marks the start of the Little League World Series, with eligibility questions swirling around another New York Little League baseball team.
Last summer's Little League World Series was dogged by scandal when Dominican-born Bronx pitcher Danny Almonte was discovered to be too old to play.
With this year's series set to open today, Little League is investigating allegations that the Harlem team that won the Mid-Atlantic Regional did it with players from outside the league's boundaries.
Newsday reported Wednesday that as many as three players, including star pitcher Alibay Barkley, live outside the Harlem Little League district, according to neighbors.
Little League is investigating and expects to make a decision on the allegations in the next day or two, said Lance Van Auken, the spokesman for Little League and a member of the committee that investigates eligibility questions. For now, the Harlem team remains eligible. Its first game is Saturday.