The Washington Post Sunday
A guide to weird bowl game swag
It can’t all be gift cards and shopping sprees when it comes to free stuff
It’s bowl season, which means it’s the time of year when college football players are rewarded for their seasonlong efforts with a check in the amount of their true market value!
I kid, of course. They get a suite of gifts from bowl game organizers. Under NCAA rules, these swag bags can have a maximum value of $550, and some of them are pretty sweet: There are gift cards and shopping sprees and newfangled electronics. Those presents get all the attention, but what about the more pedestrian items?
As usual, the fine folks at Sports Business Journal have compiled a list of gifts given by every bowl game except the Cotton Bowl, which declined to reveal the contents of its swag bag. What follows is a review of the stuff that won’t get much attention, perhaps for good reason.
Pacific Headwear trucker’s cap (New Mexico Bowl): Seeing as how I’m The Washington Post’s Least-Fashionable Employee, I was under the impression that trucker’s caps went out of style in the pre-Obama era. But a simple Google search shows that there is some debate about this. Anyway, North Texas’s and Utah State’s players will get a free trucker’s cap in their swag bags. Perhaps this will make them happy. Perhaps it will not. It’s likely to be a polarizing topic in each team’s locker room.
Dad hat (Las Vegas Bowl): I am a dad, and I have no idea what would constitute a “dad hat,” other than it probably is wholly unfashionable. But according to a 2016 Elle article, a dad hat is, “simply put, a baseball cap. But not a snapback, flatbrim or fitted. A dad hat is a baseball cap that’s canvas or cotton and has a slightly curved brim (not too curved, though) and is probably a little oversized on the wearer. Unless, of course, you’re actually a dad — then it probably fits you perfectly.” Frankly, that sounds like the kind of hat I, a dad, could get behind! I’m not so sure about a bunch of 18- to 21-year-old men from Fresno State and Arizona State, though. Maybe they prefer trucker’s caps.
Fanny pack (Las Vegas Bowl): With dad hats and fanny packs, the Las Vegas Bowl participants will be well outfitted for their next trip to Epcot with the kids.
Fossil watch (no less than 16 bowl games): Fossil clearly has planted its flag as the Official Watch Supplier of Bowl Game Swag Bags. I, too, own a Fossil watch because I am hip to the fashion choices of today’s footballplaying youths.
Beach towel (Boca Raton Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Bahamas Bowl): Scoff at the humble beach towel’s lack of swag, if you must, but if you’re playing a bowl game in Boca, Hawaii or the Bahamas, you’re probably going to need one. Aplus for practicality.
Coin (Frisco Bowl, Sun Bowl): College football players are often secret numismatists, so the players of San Diego State, Ohio, Stanford and Pittsburgh surely will appreciate these coins.
Cowboy hat (Frisco Bowl): Yes, but is it a dad cowboy hat?
Yeti Rambler (Bahamas Bowl, Cheeze-It Bowl): These insulated drinking vessels can run you dang near 100 bucks, which is a small price to pay if you want to make coffee in the morning but not consume it for 18 hours.
Cornhole set (Cheez-It Bowl): You can keep your fancy Super Nintendos and XStations and Playboxes. The best games involve bean bags. Congrats to Cal and TCU.
Life-size Fathead decal of his likeness for each participant (Quick Lane Bowl): Cool novelty or daily reminder of that one year when you were forced to spend Christmas in Detroit?
Personalized bobblehead of each student-athlete (Orange Bowl): The world’s bobblehead makers often struggle to get the likenesses of famous athletes correct. Now imagine trying to capture the essence of Oklahoma’s third-string long-snapper.
Cuff links (Sugar Bowl): The Sugar Bowl swag bag, curated by your grandma.
Frito Lay products (Arizona Bowl): Arkansas State and Nevada also will get a whole bunch of other good swag, such as backpacks with USB ports, Beats ear buds and a Kindle Fire. Bet the chips get opened first.