Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Wings lacrosse team announced that players will wear special jerseys for a game against the Buffalo Bandits on Sunday, Feb. 12. The jerseys will be turquoise instead of the traditional red and black and the backs will feature the Twitter handles of players instead of their surnames.
According to wingslax.com, the Wings “will be the first American professional sports team to use Twitter handles in place of last names on their jerseys.” When you think about it, the impact that social media has had on society is pretty remarkable. But is it a good idea for social media and sports to mix in regards to team jerseys?
Since the only part of the jersey that is affected is the nameplate, this is not problematic at all. It’s actually pretty cool, especially because the Wings are requiring all players to make a Twitter account prior to the February game, so they get a lesson in tweeting too. However, what if the team chose to change their team name to @PhillyWings for the game and dropped the logo from their uniform entirely?
Different story. A Twitter handle on a nameplate allows fans to see the online identity of a player; a team handle on the front of the jersey, to me, more or less says that you are playing for the team’s Twitter account. Think about a team like the New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens modifying their timeless uniforms to cater to people who love social media. Would it be smart to change a team logo into a written Twitter handle? Probably not.
Advertising on uniforms has already wreaked havoc on uniforms in other sports leagues, such as in the WNBA and European hockey leagues. While there is a chance that social media could do the same, what the Wings are doing is truly unique and the promotion is only for one night.
A player’s name in Twitter form is a brilliant idea and the fact that the athletes are being given a “formal Twitter training session” prior to the game shows that the Wings truly do care about the role that social media now plays in our society.
Teams tweet, players tweet and fans tweet. The Wings have the right idea with this promotion and other minor league teams should be encouraged to promote their social media presence as well.