Will US sport go ad mad?
The NBA has made plenty of changes in the last 12 months, some monumental and some predominantly superficial.
But one of the most intriguing moves is the proposed placement of a 2.5 by 2.5 inch patch of advertising on NBA jerseys.
If it happens, and most sources are saying it will, the NBA will be the first professional sports league in the US to display any advertising whatsoever on their playing jerseys.
This is the first step on a slippery slope.
NBA, NFL and MLB teams don some of the best sports jerseys in the world. The cursive of the Los Angels Dodgers. The purple and gold of the LA Lakers. The New York Jets’ green and white. The jerseys in those leagues are as iconic as any other aspect of their respective sports.
Look at Bill Russell, then look at Paul Pierce. Look at Babe Ruth, then look at Alex Rodriguez. You’d be hard pressed to find a difference between their looks. The same certainly cannot be said of Australian sporting franchises.
Take rugby league for example. I bought a Melbourne Storm jersey in October of 2005. One year later, it was out-of-date.
Why? My jersey had Medibank Private pasted across the front and they had been dumped as sponsors. The same thing doesn’t happen in America. If you bought a Yankees jersey in 1950, it’s still relevant today.
While it’s true rugby league has more traditional teams than the teenage Melbourne Storm, even the most tradition-steeped teams like St George and Easts have drastically changed their jerseys in recent times.
Have they kept the red ‘V’ and the tri-colours respectively? Yes. But advertising panels now take up such a large portion of their jerseys they’re almost unrecognisable.
The best jersey anywhere in rugby league now belongs to the Newtown Jets in the NSW Cup. Like their counterparts in New York, the Jets have managed to maintain the design, colours and simple, understated logo they had at their inception because they haven’t been subjected to a slew of corporate sponsors.
If the NBA thinks 6.25 square inches of advertising is the beginning and end of jersey ads, they might have another thing coming.