For many sports fans, the uniforms that their hometown teams wear are almost as important as the teams themselves. A jersey can represent a team, a city and a legacy – things that should never be tarnished.
Unfortunately, the need for advertising to be everywhere in the sports world may ruin sports uniforms as we know them within the next decade. While advertisements already appear on the uniforms of WNBA and MLS teams, America’s four professional sports leagues are, thankfully, still donning team-logo emblazoned jerseys.
Despite this, the question arises: how long before brand names replace the logos of historic franchises like the New York Yankees and Detroit Red Wings?
Just last week, advertising on jerseys was discussed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting. While David Stern is anti-uniform advertising, some team owners, including Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, want uniforms to feature brand logos and advertising patches.
If this happened, the idea of buying a jersey to show your team spirit would be a thing of the past. The uniform would no longer be about the team but rather the sponsor that paid a substantial amount of money to get their name or brand logo on a jersey. Despicable.
ESPN writer Paul Lukas, who also runs a blog titled “Uni Watch,” is one who is strongly against the possibility of advertisements on jerseys. In a Thursday, April 12, post on ESPN, Lukas says, “Every other part of the game is already sponsored, so why not keep the uniform as the one ad-free zone?”
Amen to that idea. With ads already being on scoreboards and playing surfaces, why not keep the uniforms clean? Quite frankly, I would be disappointed if my hometown teams had to don jerseys with the name of a sponsor appearing in place of my team’s logo.
Lukas is right: everything in sports truly revolves around advertising and marketing. The majority of stadiums have naming-rights deals and even courtside and front-row seats in some arenas feature the name of a sponsor. Just as the games of hockey and baseball are, uniforms are timeless and deserve to be kept in their current state.
Before anyone panics, there is practically a zero percent chance that ads begin popping up on NBA jerseys any time soon. Any sport looking to make more money off of advertising will have to do so without the aid of their team’s uniform, at least for several more years, according to Lukas.
It just doesn’t make sense to “fix” something that isn’t broken. What exactly is wrong with the current uniforms in America’s four major sports leagues? In my eyes, absolutely nothing. It’s a shame that the Phillies can’t even call upon a reliever without broadcaster Tom McCarthy being forced to announce that the pending move is “AT&T’s Call to the Bullpen.” Yes, Charlie Manuel’s bullpen announcements even fall under the realm of advertising.
Sponsorships have gradually crept into the game and it appears as if they will be a fixture in sports for quite a while. All I ask is that teams keep their uniforms free of ads. Let me see a logo on the front and a name on the back – not the word “Bimbo” on the Philadelphia Union’s kits.
The uniform, jersey, sweater – whatever you call it – is a respected part of sports culture. If an organization feels the need to sell out and put a sponsor’s logo where the crest should be, well, that’s just a shame for everyone.