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There was a time when fans rooted for teams with fanciful names on their shirts and when championships had names like the Cotton or Orange Bowls. Around the globe, sports competitions have devolved into proxy wars under the banners of a team’s corporate sponsors. In Madrid, Aon PLC, a risk management company, lost its proxy war to bwin, an online gambling company, when veterans from Real Madrid beat Manchester United, 3 to 2. In the Japan Series, the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Nippon Ham Fighters 4 to 2, to the delight of the Yomiuri Group, a media conglomerate, and to the chagrin of Nippon Ham. How long until ESPN realizes that the more spirited battles between corporate giants take place in the courtroom, not the playing fields?

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