Written by Puff Staff

Sunday, 06 January 2013

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altThis is the biggest week of the year for college football, or at least for the elite teams that competed in the New Year’s Day bowl games or will in Monday’s BCS championship. That’s why we’re looking back at a long-forgotten bowl game from the past as well as an incident that exposed the love-hate relationship of tobacco and athletics. We’re also giving you a look at a couple of cigar bars worth checking out in the American heartland.





Ever Heard of the Cigar Bowl?


Over the last few days, we’ve been inundated with college football bowl games, with the biggie coming Monday night, January 7. That’s when Alabama’s Crimson Tide will meet the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the BCS championship, and a year’s worth of bragging rights. The Tide is the current defending BCS champion, while the Irish will be making their first trip to this prestigious game, so both sides have plenty at stake.




While some games, like the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl have been around for decades, others like the Salad Bowl in Phoenix, the Great Lakes Bowl in Cleveland, the Raisin Bowl in Fresno and the Cigar Bowl in Tampa have fallen by the wayside.


Never heard of the Cigar Bowl? Most people haven’t, since the last game was played nearly 60 years ago. The Cigar Bowl was a post-season college game played in Tampa, Florida, from 1947-54. The game featured small college teams and was played at Phillips Field, across the Hillsborough River from downtown Tampa. The Cigar Bowl was founded as fundraiser for the local chapter of the Shriners, with its name honoring Tampa’s flourishing cigar industry.


While the teams may have been small time, the city of Tampa took full advantage of its own bowl game with a tourist-friendly “sports circus” lasting a month and offering other sports like horse racing, boxing and tennis.


In the first Cigar Bowl, Southern Miss shut out Havana University 55-0. Yes, that’s Havana as in Cuba, back before Castro and the embargo. The final Cigar Bowl was played on December 17, 1954, and saw the University of Tampa defeat Charleston 21-0.




Alas, the Cigar Bowl was doomed by the limited capacity of Phillips Field, which held only 20,000, and the increasing budget of hosting the game. The Cigar Bowl was discontinued after the Shriners pulled their support in 1955. That was the end of big-time college football in Tampa until Tampa Stadium was built in 1967.


Since these days, any corporation with enough cash can start its own athletic event, maybe it’s time for one of Tampa’s numerous cigar companies to step up and bring back the Cigar Bowl. We already have 30-something bowl games, so one more can’t hurt, and teams from the frozen north would love a week-long vacation in sunny Florida this time of year, as well as the chance to try out a few premium cigars.




Starting their own bowl game would probably be the only way the cigar manufacturers could get a little respect from the organizations that run the games. Just a year ago, Camacho Cigars signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Orange Bowl that didn’t work out too well.




A December 2011 press release from Davidoff of Geneva and the Orange Bowl Committee named Camacho Cigars as a “Corporate Sponsor” of the Orange Bowl Festival for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Discover Orange Bowls and 2013 Discover BCS National Championship. This sponsorship would have given VIPs, fans and corporate honchos the opportunity to enjoy fine cigars at Camacho lounges around the stadium.


Unfortunately for Camacho, and cigar lovers who attend college bowl games, the cigar maker was forced to pull out of the sponsorship just before last year’s Orange Bowl. Within days of the sponsorship announcement, some anti-tobacco health organizations, as well as three U.S. Senators, put pressure on the NCAA and the Orange Bowl Committee to rescind the contract, claiming it encouraged kids to associate smoking with collegiate athletics.


Camacho agreed to pull out of the sponsorship, with head of marketing Dylan Austin giving this statement: “This is not what either of our organizations envisioned when we set up our partnership. Our support for the decision that was ultimately taken was out of respect for the history and long-term community involvement of the Orange Bowl Committee.”


So are all the other sponsors of college football events makers of only squeaky clean, 100% healthy products? Of course not. A list of 50 partners on the Orange Bowl sponsor list includes Stella Artois and Bacardi. So it’s OK to expose viewers of a college football game to booze but not cigars? That’s why we need to bring back the Cigar Bowl!


0 # RE: What is the Cigar Bowl?cigar50 2013-01-10 22:36
It was really cool to learn a little about the history of the cigar bowl. If you are looking to make an impression with unique cigars, I recommend customizing them to add a little flare!

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0 # daughtercstuhr 2013-02-03 00:16
Quoting cigar50:
It was really cool to learn a little about the history of the cigar bowl. If you are looking to make an impression with unique cigars, I recommend customizing them to add a little flare!

My father played for U. of Wisconsin-La Crosse and played in two cigar Bowl games. One as a freshmen and the other as a senior. He played with no face mask. Ouch.

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0 # (Monarch)Dusty Miller 2013-02-26 03:25
Wow! I never knew about this--thanks so much for bringing this (like cigars) to light.

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