July 20, 2012

Advertising on uniforms the way of the future

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Ice Hockey, Soccer

The NBA has embraced the future and will begin to capitalize on the best money-making idea that none of the “Big Four” leagues in North American sports have even thought about yet: Advertising on team’s jerseys.

While the first thing that many fans would do is poo poo this sort of thing on the grounds of tradition, can you really claim tradition any more when franchises are rolling out new jerseys as often as every three seasons? How often does a team revamp their third jerseys, or alter a few stripes on their home and away outfits? It seems like every year that at least one team is changing its colours and logo all together.

While you can claim tradition for the old-school teams like the Detroit Red Wings or New York Yankees, teams that haven’t changed their looks for, well, ever, no such passes can be awarded to the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Wild.

Many will complain that we’ll begin to see jerseys like those worn by European football clubs – or MLS clubs if you like. But seeing a company’s logo bigger than the club’s badge isn’t something that would fly in North America. In Europe, badges and crests for teams were always small, with the patterns on the jerseys being more symbolic of the club. Here, it has always been about the big logo on the front of the shirt or hat.

You can’t argue the amount of revenue even just a patch will add to a team’s revenue. Not only would a company pay top dollar to have their logo on a team that’s viewed by millions every time it’s on television, but don’t forget that even the replica jerseys that fans wear would be adorned with the company’s brand. Professional sports franchises are all about the bottom line – and I’m not talking about wins and losses. Billionaires are investing in teams now to make a profit, not to be the next Steinbrenner.

Also, NBA commissioner David Stern did say that the uniform patches would be small. They won’t be seen until the 2013-14 season either.

Kudos must be given to the NBA for staying a step ahead of their competing North American sports. This should be the next logical step for every sport. It’s an easy way to make money without completely harming the integrity of sports.

But let’s just hope this isn’t a slippery slope towards what some of the pro hockey teams in Europe look like.

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