An Athlete’s Take: The Jersey Debate
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 16:04
It may have only been an unlikely possibility a couple of years ago but it seems more and more likely that the iconic NBA jersey’s which lay out like badges of honor replete with our favorite city and player’s names may soon be adorned with numerous brand names. Just imagine your coveted #17 Jeremy Lin jersey with the Coca Cola logo splashed across the front. It could be happening sooner than you think.
A couple of weeks ago a presentation to the league’s board of governors hinted that the NBA could become the first of the major four sports here in the United Stated to adopt advertising as part of team apparel. With the labor dispute still fresh in the minds of everyone the league may be making a play to secure its finances for the future, what better than new advertising opportunities for its sponsors?
Unfortunately this will not sit well with the purists of the game, and more importantly, the fans. A fan’s connection to their teams is an almost unbreakable bond. Year after year through the lofty highs and abysmal lows fans support their teams through thick and thin and contrary to popular belief the notion that this jersey sponsorship would change that is nonsensical.
Sure, when it inevitably happens (there is too much money in it for it to not) there will be a harsh backlash. In fact pundits have argued that some fans may even try to organize a boycott or stop purchasing apparel, both of which are unfounded. Let’s face it, commercialization is nothing new in American Sports. Those who argue against this may want to take a closer look at the NBA landscape as it is right now.
In the wake of this news, fans everywhere have been making big principled stands about their opposition to this but quite frankly the NBA knows deep down eventually they’ll just get over it and go back to watching basketball. It may be bad for a while but the league will most likely just wait it out. After that the fans will get used to it and things will go back to normal.
Advertising in jerseys has long been used in other sports and they have in fact become almost iconic, engrained in the favorite memories of their teams’ history. For example “Carlsberg,” the once long-time sponsor of English soccer team Liverpool, became the beer of choice for many of their supporters.
Even the most popular sports jersey in the world, FC Barcelona’s, has the logo “Quatar Foundation” on the front and that does not seem to deter his ardent supporters at all. If soccer, the world’s most popular sport, can survive with its level of commercialization which has been going on since the 80s, surely the NBA fans will adjust.
What people seem to forget is that there is already advertising all over the NBA. It’s just all over the basket structure, all over the courts, all over the inside of the arena, even the arena names, is just the tip of the iceberg. The broadcasts are filled with sponsors, the commentators reference them all the time, even the statistics are sponsored, case and point , ‘The KFC Bucket Chart.’ Even the events are named after advertising, such as the “Kia Slam Dunk Contest” where they had the audacity to bring a Kia car on court to kick start Blake Griffin’s commercial career. And guess what? Nobody watches any less because of it.
While the immediate visibility of adding a patch to the jerseys may cause initial outrage, people will eventually get used to it and stop caring. The NBA will outlast the embarrassment campaign. Quite frankly a business only feels embarrassment when negative PR affects their bottom line and with the newly found revenue, it wont.
So are you ready to pick up your Kobe Bryant ‘Weight Watchers’ Lakers jersey?