Friday, July 20, 2012

NBA Goes Bush League

The NBA will be the first of the four major North American sports to cave and put corporate advertising on their jerseys. From ESPN:

Come fall, it's highly likely you'll see a small 2-inch-by-2-inch sponsorship patch stitched on the shoulder of your favorite player's game jersey.

"I think it's likely that we'll do something, implement something, some sort of plan for the fall," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. "I think it's fair to say that our teams were excited about the opportunity and think there is potentially a big opportunity in the marketplace to put a two-by-two patch on the shoulder of our jerseys."

Well, sure. It should fetch a LOT of money.
"Our view is we think, on an aggregate basis, league-wide, our 30 teams could generate in total $100 million by selling that patch on jerseys, per season," Silver said.
And, I have to believe the other sports will quickly follow. It's probably amazing the NBA held off this long, when you consider how difficult it is to see the clothing at all on a NASCAR driver, or European soccer player.

I collect hockey jerseys. Part of it is that when I play recreational hockey, I enjoy wearing an NHL jersey & socks. It's as close as I'm ever going to look like an actual hockey player. I have a few minor league jerseys that do have logo patches on them. They are my least favorite. They appear cluttered and cheap to me.

Once you get past aesthetics, it's difficult to find a rationale against jersey sponsorships. Shorter contracts and increased player movement have given more weight than ever to the Seinfeldian notion that NBA jerseys are just laundry, vessels that carry the true product -- the collective talents of the guys playing the games, jamming the ball, blocking the shots, draining the 3s. If a corporate logo doesn't compromise those skills and actually strengthens the fortunes of the league, then it's an idea that should be carried to fruition.
I've worn my share of t-shirts in my life to get the concept of the walking billboard, but they aren't 'just laundry' if you've laid out $200 for a jersey. I like to promote my team. It doesn't mean I like to also promote that team's corporate sponsors. If you want me, as the wearer of licensed sports apparel to embrace a logo on the jersey, then reduce the price of the jersey, and I won't object so stridently.

The fans are always the last consideration.

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