While in Alabama over the holidays I was startled to see Louisiana Lt. Gov Jay Dardenne appear in a TV advertisement. He spoke directly into the camera and offered me the following deal: if the Alabama Crimson Tide prevails over the LSU Tigers in the BCS National Championship game, I get to play two free rounds of golf in Louisiana.
Dardenne made clear he was rooting for the Bayou Bengals, but then said, “I’ve got an offer for you golfers: two free rounds of golf on an Audubon Golf Trail course. Just visit LouisianaTravel.com to register. Come to Louisiana to pick your passion.”
Excited by the freebie, I raced to register. I figured it would be a nice consolation prize should the Tigers lose their rematch to the Tide. But when I went to Dardenne’s site, I learned the offer was good only for Alabamans.
As you know, the first time I saw Dardenne’s state tourism slogan — “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion” — I thought it read “Louisiana: Pick Your Poison.” (I still prefer that version, by the way.) So I carefully parsed the fine print of Dardenne’s golf offer and realized it wasn’t quite as generous as the TV spot made it seem. Here’s how the Louisiana Travel site explains the deal:
Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne is giving away 200 rounds of free golf if the Tide beats the Tigers in the National Championship Game. One hundred winners will be selected at random from the entries to win a round of golf, including cart fees, for two players.
The office of the Lt. Governor “Lousiana: [sic] Pick Your Passion” Audobon [sic] Golf Trail LSU vs. Alabama Football Challenge [sic no endquote] is open to legal residents of Alabama, age 18 or older at the time of entry.
So if the Tide rolls, Alabamans don’t necessarily get a free golf package, as the ad implies. They only get a chance to win two rounds free golf (plus cart fees). To me, it seemed rather skinflint-y. Each package is valued at a hundred bucks, and Dardenne’s only giving away a hundred of them? Presumably the idea behind the promotion is to lure well-heeled golfers to our courses under the assumption that they’ll spend much more than a hundy in travel and entertainment while in Louisiana. But if that’s the case, why ration the golf freebies so tightly?
Hell, I thought, what’s the cost of the commercials for this deal anyway? Won’t the ad expenses outstrip the ten thousand bucks set aside for the promotion itself? It all seemed a little weird until I read in The Advocate that “the ads are funded by a BP grant.”
Now it made sense. BP picks up the tab, while Dardenne cuts attention-getting spots tied to the “Championship of the Century,” with only a modest investment of ten thousand bucks in outlays from his budget — if Alabama wins, that is.
Still, you’d think that Dardenne could’ve persuaded his counterpart in Alabama to see the logic in a reciprocal arrangement. After all, Alabama’s beaches got coated in BP oil, and I’m sure they’d like to run free ads that entice Louisianans to their courses, too.
Dardenne’s one-way arrangement with Tide fans seems unfair to Louisiana golfers, but that’s about par for the course. (Ugh, sorry.) The entire football contest upon which the golf challenge depends is unfair to LSU, in that Tide fans have already received the “gift” of a rematch with a team that already beat them. Alabama had their chance against the Tigers, at home, and lost. And even if Bama wins on Monday night, their record (12-1) will still be worse than LSU’s (13-1), and their 2011 team’s accomplishments will still be inferior to the Tigers’ historic season.
So, to heck with the economic impact of Dardenne’s dinky, one-sided, free golf lottery offer to Alabamans — Geaux Tigers!