The Business of Ball with Joseph James Francis

Advertising on Uniforms…No Thank You

By: Joseph James Francis

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We have seen the unrolling of advertising on NBA uniforms this season. When it was announced this past summer, I had mixed feelings. I figured it was just part of the evolution of sports but at the same time, I felt it cheapened the product. After seeing the jerseys in games, I must fall towards the negative side. Something just doesn’t feel right to me and I know I am not the only one. I think there are several problems with adverts on jerseys. Many people state the popularity of leagues like IPL in India and the BPL in England are measuring sticks for how advertising will be accepted by the fans. I would disagree for one simple reason. With soccer and cricket, there is no delay every few minutes as we pause for a commercial break. Teams must capitalize any way they can for the lack of television ad spots makes it tough to generate revenue. With the 4 major sports in North America, there is a commercial break almost every 5 minutes. We a constantly being bombarded by advertising and commercials.

Let the slippery slope begin as we post in more advertising in even more places. If you have ever watched IIHF hockey like the Spengler Cup every winter, you will notice how players are decorated from head to toe with sponsors. They literally look like the side of an old nightclub with papers of upcoming acts stapled to the side of them. Even the ice surface isn’t immune to the ads with every single available spot having a logo on it. When I see highlights of these games it looks cheap and tacky.

Why the uniform is so sacred to me in our sports in North America is because it was the last untouched area. Sure, you have the logo of the uniform maker there, be it Nike, Adidas or Reebok. Beyond that, however, it was always about the logo of the team. To me, that is kind of sacred. There is a history, a legacy, and a tradition of the purity of the uniform. When I see the General Electric Logo on the breast of the Boston Celtic uniform it makes me cringe. The same goes for seeing Sun Life on my beloved Toronto Raptor’s uniform. It looks cheesy and cheap.

When I watch European Football matches I sometimes have to question which team is which. Is Arsenal playing Manchester United or are Emirates playing Chevrolet? It’s gross to me. I love seeing the old school lettering of the Knicks when they go up against the Lakers. Taking away from that is a huge detriment to the game. Other leagues will surely follow suit. My guess is that Hockey is next with the NHL a great candidate for jersey adverts. It is only a matter of time before it will the Toronto a Scotia Banks versus the Montreal Bank of Montreal’s. That might just be the day where I turn the TV off for good. When there is not one minute of action without me being sold something, sports will have lost its appeal to me.

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor, Money Coach, and Blogger. He can be reached at:

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