Every nook and, yes, even the crannies of professional and college stadiums, ballparks and arenas are blanketed with advertising.
Every first down, home run and three-point basket is “brought to you by…(fill in the sponsor)” on the local radio broadcast.
In the multi-billion-dollar industry of sports, no revenue-generating advertising opportunity goes untapped … except for the Holy Grail of America’s Big Four – the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB – the uniform.
Player uniforms are off limits for corporate sponsorship. That's about to change.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the NBA plans to slap a small Kia Motors Corp. logo on the upper left chest of its All-Star Game jerseys in 2016 and 2017.
The decision raises two questions:
1. What took so long?
NASCAR drivers and their cars have served as lucrative rolling billboards for decades. International leagues, and especially European soccer, have capitalized on uniform advertising for years. So have golfers on the pro tour.
We’ve long claimed that jersey advertising should be taboo to protect the sanctity of the sport. But is this nonsense and hypocritical? Uniforms already sport athletic apparel logos, and these logos are doing exactly what advertisements are meant to do: they boost the credibility of each brand. Furthermore, practice jerseys already have advertising.
2. Is there any doubt where this is headed?
Nope. Once the Big Four owners and league players’ unions figure out how to divvy up the riches, that Holy Grail will become a blank slate just waiting to be plastered with riches.
Placing ads on uniforms would be a significant shift away from tradition – something people are averse to. This means we would be fools not to expect uproar in the immediate future. Still, humans also have an incredible ability to adapt. In just a few years, we’ll have forgotten how empty these uniforms once were.