By Julia Rivera, For The Miami Student
It’s official, the NBA sold out.
The league announced April 15 that its board of governors approved a three-year trial period for advertisements on its new Nike jerseys beginning with the 2017-18 season.
The ads will come in the form of 2.5-by-2.5 inch patches located on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the NBA logo.
The ads are projected to generate about $150 million for the league in annual revenue. The league’s attempt to make even more money by placing ads on jerseys is a move straight out of the soccer playbook. Soccer clubs were the first sports teams to slap sponsorships onto their uniforms, and after half-century of doing so, it’s become standard practice, evidently to the envy of NBA owners.
People have been freaking out over the announcement, but it’s really not that big of a deal. If you think about it, NBA fans have been buying jerseys with advertisements since the beginning of NBA jersey retail. A team’s jersey, whether it says “Knicks,” “Warriors” or “Celtics” in its custom font, is inherently a wearable advertisement for the team.
In soccer and in the NBA’s near future, you’ll be buying a product that accentuates the team’s brand and functionally serves as a wearable billboard for whatever sponsorship is involved.
Sure, a team name has a prideful, more emotive meaning to a fan than any corporation’s technocrat logo, but it’s branding nonetheless. Otherwise, the Knicks would just take the court in blue tank tops and shorts with orange trim. And that’s boring.
The ad logos will be tiny. Compared to soccer jerseys, it’s barely noticeable. Despite the massive logos on soccer jerseys, they’re still aesthetically pleasing to some, as soccer jerseys are trendy in fashion right now.
The argument that team names and logos will soon be replaced by brand names and corporations is ridiculous. Soccer teams have badges on the upper left of each shirt to identify the club. Each NBA team has their own custom fonts across their jerseys — fonts that cost lots of money to design and are essential to the team’s image.
When it comes to deciding whether the team’s name or something else gets the most real estate on a jersey, the team will always aim to protect its preexisting, billion-dollar brand. Looking at the jersey’s relationship between team branding and advertisements, the NBA is actually doing the reverse of what soccer teams have done, and isn’t that better?
And what’s even better is that the sponsor patches will literally have no effect on how you consume NBA merchandise. The ads won’t appear on the retail versions of player jerseys unless the team decides to put it on jerseys within their own retail outlets.
People may be upset about the new ad logos, but in the end, the change is barely noticeable and people will get over it.
The NBA is selling out, but it’s a business move, and it’s in the league’s best interest.