BANGOR — The back cover of the Maine Principals’ Association basketball championship game program is beautiful. At the top, each of the 10 state game matchups, from Class AA to D, are showcased, complete with times and sites of each game. The jersey of each state game participant is shown below it as well.

Every school’s logo is also displayed, from the Edward Little Red Eddie to the Hawks from Marshwood and Hermon, to the Winthrop Rambler.

The front cover is a full page ad for Spalding’s TF-1000 Legacy basketball. The official basketball of six college conferences listed at the bottom, as well as the MPA tournament. Right there in the ad, above the tastefully shot photo of the basketball, just right of center, it says everything you need to know, in gold capital letters. CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL PERFORMANCE.

Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Lazarczyk

The Spalding TF-1000 Legacy basketball retails for around 65 bucks on a variety of online shopping sites, if this weekend’s games sway you to go out and buy one. Go ahead, have that championship feeling in your driveway.

The hope, of course, is that this embarrassing program cover was printed in error, that what was on the back should’ve been on the front. Maybe the proof was flip-flopped.

According to Mike Bisson, a director with the MPA, the cover was, indeed, a mistake. The MPA did not sell the cover of the game program to Spalding.

“It’s a printer’s error,” Bisson said Friday night before the Class B boys and girls state championship games.

Let’s hope so, because even for an organization like the MPA — which has public announcements promoting its corporate sponsors numerous times throughout each tournament game — this is especially crass. The MPA prides itself on putting student-athletes first, but what appeared on the state game program cover Friday night made for some bad optics.

So let’s pump the brakes on the righteous indignation. Who is the printer? Who made this embarrassing error?

“We don’t know,” Bisson said.

Turns out, the MPA farms its program design to Alliance Sports Marketing, in Nashville, Tennessee. Or it did, anyway. Even before this mistake, the basketball program was set to be Alliance’s last project with the MPA, Bisson said.

So you can see the folks at Alliance didn’t exactly give 110 percent on this one.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for this. The mystery person or people who printed the program should have realized something didn’t look right and double-checked with Alliance. The lame duck marketers at Alliance should have put in a little more effort, checked that everything they sent to the printer was in order, and checked it again. Deadlines are obviously tight, but not so tight a slapdash glance was all this obviously received.

The MPA could be more hands on. Farming the program production out is fine, but somebody from the MPA should have at least glance at an e-mailed copy of the program before it went to press.

Putting on a statewide basketball tournament costs money. Neutral site arenas, referees and trophies cost money. In the future, shot clocks and replay equipment could cost more money. Sponsors help defray the numerous costs. They’re necessary. Including the dubious cover, there are six full-page ads in the basketball game program.

Those ads buy plenty of Spalding TF-1000 Legacy basketballs.

Mistakes happen. The basketball championship program cover is embarrassing, but not world-ending. Bisson said the MPA hopes to have it corrected for the other state title games Saturday. So if you bought a program at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Friday night, hold on to it. Maybe it will be a collector’s item, or at least an interesting curiosity.

If nothing else, the cover that was an ad provided us this reminder: Never cut corners.

With the state basketball tournament, we try to give a top-notch experience to our student-athletes. We expect their best, and they should expect ours, too.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 


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