About a year and a half ago, hockey teams started putting sponsorship logos on their jerseys. The Detroit Red Wings began this disturbing trend with their Amway sponsorship, and fans weren't happy. At all. Soon this disturbing trend spread to other, non-cash strapped Original Six teams like the Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks. Hockey fans were in an uproar. Sure, these were just practice jerseys, but having a sponsorship on any jersey -- especially ones with Original Six logos -- was just cringe inducing. Fans worried if the next step was sponsorship on the regular jersey, a la teams in international leagues, which could probably be referred to as "NASCAR on ice." The trend continued to spread, to where a good chunk of teams all the way to the Florida Panthers are featuring corporate sponsors on practice jerseys.
This turned into a grin-and-bear it situation for the fans. Sure, the NFL've been wearing logos splashed on their practice uniforms for ages, and no one seems to care. Hockey fans seem to be a little bit different about their teams jerseys, though. Protective comes to mind -- protective of the tradition surrounding the crest on the front. Minor league teams have sponsors on their jerseys, but fans figure it's a necessity. It is not a necessity for a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins to have a corporate logo next to their crest. Jerseys are sacred to fans, and so's the crest.
I admit to not being either a basketball or football fan at all, so I don't have my finger on the pulse of how their fans feel about this situation. I would expect, though, baseball fans to be akin to hockey fans when it comes to a situation like this, which is why we'll never see corporate logos besmirching uniforms whose basic design might be 120 years old. It's also why we shouldn't see corporate logos on a Habs jersey any time soon, either. Tradition and age of the teams have a lot to do with this situation.
So does the understanding of the owners. Sure, hockey owners aren't exactly tops of anyone's list right at this moment, but one would hope that they'd have the common sense to not agree to what the NBA has agreed to: logos on their game jerseys. Yep. In addition to in-game ads on the floor, TV commercials, and corporate sponsorships of every facet of the game and broadcast, you'll also be treated to your favorite team having a sponsorship logo smack dab on their chest.
And if you'd like to purchase that team's jersey? Why, the logo comes with it!
It's inane. NASCAR, well, the sponsorships are almost necessary because of the high cost of the game. In soccer, the sponsorships on the jerseys happen because of the minimum of commercial breaks. European hockey leagues and international play have sponsors on their jerseys because the revenue isn't there on par with the NHL. But for professional North American sports leagues to trot this idea out? It seems like a money grub, plain and simple.
Money's great, but these leagues already take in a ton of cash. Surely there's some room left for tradition and cleanliness of uniform? God willing the NHL will have the brains to stop this trend with the practice jerseys and leave it at that.
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@TPBadam Not too many things I hate more than those ad graphics on the glass behind the goalies. I paid to watch the game, not commercials.
Monetize every space possible. It's a boring, but ultimately predictable trend, at least as long as advertising keeps following its current paths. Especially in this world of internet streams and DVRs, teams (of any sport) are going to be looking for cash in in as many ways as possible. That doesn't mean we as fans have to like it, of course, and if we make the right noises regarding it (buying less of it, watching less of it, going to fewer games of it, all while stating WHY we're doing the things we're doing), it may eventually stop. Whether or not the hardcore hockey fan would actually fully commit to go that route is more than I'm willing to speculate on.
I think the trick here is really to guess whether or not this will hurt jersey sales. It's already obvious that the average person is perfectly happy to walk around sporting shirts, hats, and so forth with company logos on them, after all. Still, I sit here and think about the Blue Note sharing space with, for a blue-ish example, Pepsi-cola. I simply can't conceive of a way that this does not detract from the professional look of the jersey, and I certainly wouldn't be inclined to pay money for it.
To sidetrack into baseball really quickly, it might actually be easier for the Cardinals to pull this off, at least if they could convince Rawlings or similar to buy the space on the bat. After all, real bats already have that on 'em, so it wouldn't be horribly out of place. So, do we then see a proliferation of hockey logo changes to work in sticks a-la the '98/99-'01/02 Kings logo? It isn't like team logos don't get at least minor alterations every decade or so, after all. While that wouldn't be nearly the full use that teams might want to make of the jersey space, it would probably at least come closer to not really hacking off their fans.
Then again, I'm one of those people who thinks that all the ads up and down the boards is ugly, and the new digital ones up behind the net are hideous, so what do I know, eh?
I've been waiting for this to happen. You know it will - money speaks loudly and the NHL likes money. I just wonder if they jerseys get to the point where they look like the ones in Europe (kind of like NACAR uniforms).