The clamor hereabouts over building a new sports arena to replace the James A. Rhodes hardwood is another example of faded athletic crowd-keeping. In this instance, the JAR, the acronym quickly assigned to the place by the sports crowd who thought it a cute substitute, turned 30 in 2013. That meant by today's standards, it's a relic with too few seats (and other modern conveniences), regardless of whether they were ever fully filled.
For the proposed modern structure claimed by the University of Akron, the name was offered as a kind of honorific for the sitting governor in the early 80s. Among the witnesses to a a pre-arena meeting between then-UA President Dominic Guzzetta and Rhodes was Guzzetta's aide, Dick Wright.
"Before leaving for Columbus to meet with the governor with an appeal for his support, I urged Guzzetta not to begin by promising Rhodes that the arena would be named after him, " Wright told me years later. A veteran of the give and take of state politics, Wright figured the official flattery would only be useful as a last resort to win the governor's support.
"So what do you think happened?", Wright said. "As soon as we sat down in the governor's office, Dom eagerly assured Rhodes that the University would put the governor's name on it."
So much for Wright's counseling. And that, dear reader, is how it proclaimed James A. Rhodes for the ages before it became the JAR.
We can only consider the consequences if a later governor, Robert Alphonso Taft II had been in the office.
But given our addiction to acronyms, best that we not go there.