May 16, 2012

The #Mercedes #Lakers, up next?

ESPN's online magazine, Grantland, has a great column wondering why American pro sports teams don’t have European-style advertising-laden jerseys. (The auto racing world is already there, of course, as is golf, both individual sports, of course.)

I’ve wondered that myself for some time, in the nation that claims not only to be the land of liberty but the home of free enterprise.

I think the Grantland story is right in that the NBA will be first, then the NHL. The ad style fits with the bling-and-Twitter image of the NBA. The NHL just will take money wherever.

The NFL and MLB will both claim “purity,” I’m sure. Also, in the NFL, more than MLB, revenue-sharing issues will raise a dogfight over this. So, contra Grantland, the Jerry Jones fear is nothing other than that of not wanting to share money off any Dallas Cowboys jersey ads.

The header? The Mercedes Lakers was Grantland’s idea,  not mine. But, the Goldman Sachs Yankees, per the story’s title?

Won’t work.

First, a company advertising on a team jersey, where space is limited, probably has to have a decent reputation of some sort. Even with the Steinbrenner kids at the helm, G. Sachs probably wouldn’t be its first choice. (And, of course, MLB won’t be the first adoptees.)

Second, you have to have a recognizable logo. Mercedes has that. Other than a dollar sign, or a hand holding a Ben Franklin, Goddam Sachs has no logo. That’s why the Nike swoosh works so well for players.

Speaking of, that could be problem No. 3. Remember the 1992 Olympic basketball “dream team” and Michael Jordan using the U.S. flag to hide non-Nike logos? Now, Mercedes doesn’t make hightops, but … what if Adidas, for example, wants to buy on a team’s uniforms? Or Nike wants to do more than the inconspicuous swooshes it already does. (Let’s not forget it does this on NCAA unis, too, but that’s a whole nother subject.

Since, in all professional sports, some teams are more popular than others, how do leagues handle the revenue sharing issue? On either this or individual vs team logo conflicts, does “old Europe” have wisdom?

And also, as a sports fan, would this make you even less loyal to what was your favorite team? For me, it could. It would depend on the number and garishness of ads, how they were handled, etc.

As for my predictions on timetables? I'd say the NBA could start it by 2015, as either the departing gift of David Stern or else the incoming bold move of his successor. 

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