I'm thriled for the newly-named Team Columbia, formerly Team High Road, which was once Team T-Mobile. When T-Mobile withdrew its sponsorship, nobody really batted an eye - sponsorships come and go, it is the circle of life.
When nobody stepped in to fill the void, though, eyebrows were raised. Now two prominent teams - Slipstream and High Road - were named not for a sponsor, but for their parent company. Had the business model of advertising-by-sponsorship changed? Was doping actually succeeding in killing the sport?
A good fan will let sponsorships influence his consumerism. If I want to go on a jellybean binge, you know I'm going to go straight for the Jelly Bellies. When looking for a consulting firm to establish my small business' employee benefits packages, I need look no further than Kelly Benefit Strategies.
How the hell does one purchase a Slipstream or a High Road? You can't. They exist only to manage the cycling teams that bear their name. There is no way for the consumer to spend money on High Road, which seems to imply that there is no way for High Road's investments - in travel, in salary, in equipment - to be returned. I'm no student of business, but I'm pretty sure that this model isn't sustainable.
So congratulations again to Team Columbia. If I find myself desperately in need of outdoor apparel and faced with the decision between Columbia-brand goods and other similarly-priced goods, I will be spending my money on the brand that sponsors my sport.