Most American professional sports have at one time or another debated putting ads on players’ jerseys, and the NBA appears to be ready to actually take action. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver tweeted this week that it’s “likely” that jersey advertisements will come in the 2013-2014 season.
It won’t be like the Premier League or the MLS, where players have logos and brand names across their chest where the team’s logo would be. Instead, the current iteration of the plan is that NBA players will have two-inch square patches on the shoulders of their jerseys. That’s not a huge change, and yet will still apparently bring $100 million in new revenue to the league. The top 20 English soccer clubs, by comparison, made $178 million from the giant ads on their jerseys.
Kevin Arnovitz points out that there are some thorny issues to be worked out with how the sponsorships will work, largely because the NBA already has sponsorship deals and agreements with a huge number of companies. And as Freakonomics noted when this same sponsorship discussion came up in the NFL, there’s more to it even than that. If Kobe Bryant is sponsored by Adidas, can he wear an Under Armor-sponsored jersey if they buy space on the Lakers’ shoulders?
The move comes in an off-season filled with changes in how the NBA works. Instant replay is going to be expanded to cover goaltending calls, blocks vs. charges, flagrant fouls, and more. The league is changing, modernizing in some ways and exploring new capitalistic ways in others — the challenge is going to be doing all these things without changing what happens on the court.
(Image via HoopSpeak)