By Phil Hecken
The big, and pretty much entirely expected news yesterday was the announcement by the NBA that the league will begin selling jersey
sponsorships advertisements in 2017-18, becoming the first major North American sports league to put partners’ logos on players’ uniforms. And so, it begins.
Here’s the basics of the deal: It will be a “three-year trial” and takes effect when the league’s contract with Nike begins for the 2017-18 season. The patches will appear on the front left of the jersey, opposite Nike’s logo, and measure about 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches.
Commissioner Adam Silver called the ads “inevitable” as an “additional revenue generator,” (what, they don’t make enough already?) and WNBA teams currently have logos. NBA clubs have been wearing them on practice jerseys for a while now. So, by Silver’s logic, this is just the next step.
According to Silver:
Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways. We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial.
Each team will have to sell its own ad space to sponsors. Teams will reportedly net half of the sponsorship money from the jersey ads. The rest will go to the league’s revenue-sharing pool.
So there you have it. It’s funny, I was planning on titling this piece “And so it begins” (a fairly famous J.R.R. Tolkien quote) the other day, when I knew the ads would be coming (it was pretty much the worst kept secret in the world) — but it was used yesterday, twice by Paul — the first time as I tweeted this news, and the second time, to begin his ESPN article on the announcement. Great minds (or at least his…).
Paul’s a much better scribe than I (and on this issue, we are in 100% agreement), so I’d recommend you folks read that for an excellent critique of the NBA’s decision. I’ll highlight a few choice quotes below:
“The NBA, by adding corporate brands to its uniforms, runs the risk of ruining one of the most audacious examples of brand loyalty the world has ever seen. … (I)t’s the most potent form of brand loyalty on the consumer landscape. It’s one of the really special things about sports. And that’s the incredibly powerful mechanism the NBA is risking by allowing ads on its uniforms. In an era when virtually every facet of the sports experience is now advertised or sponsored, the uniform has become the last ad-free haven, a place where fan and team can bond without the external noise of competing brands.”
There are still many questions of course — since each team will sell its “own” ad space, how will they do this and how will the advertisers be chosen? Will teams seek ‘local’ businesses (like, will Coca Cola sponsor the Hawks?) or will they simply open the process to the highest bidder? What kinds of ads will be acceptable (like, can Porn Hub or the Pot Growers Association of Denver buy ads?)? Is this really going to be a “three year trial” or is that just to give us a faint glimmer of hope that the ads aren’t permanent — initially the ads are going to be small box-sized (2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches), but who is to say these won’t morph into giant WNBA-sized ads or soccer-style ads?
And if that’s the road down which we’re headed, will ads be limited to just ONE ad, or are we looking at something like this or even like this? Don’t laugh — other leagues plaster ads over almost every conceivable inch of space — are we really that far from something like this? Don’t laugh.
Was it really only four years ago that Paul opined on ESPN that we shouldn’t “expect uni ads anytime soon”?
It’s not like this was unexpected — but still, it feels so…depressing. It’s like the beginning of the end. It was the NBA yesterday. But now that this dyke has been breached, you can probably expect Gary Bettman of the NHL to have a similar announcement in the not too distant future — Bettman didn’t want the NHL to be the first league to solicit uni ads, but the ad horse has now left the barn.
And so, it has begun.
The floor is yours.
Everyone Wears 42 Day Roundup
MLB doesn’t get a lot of things right (and hasn’t gotten much right in decades), but the one thing they do do right is Jackie Robinson Day — the day all players ditch names on backs and wear 42. I really look forward to this day every year. It’s a great treat, and a wonderful honor for arguably the most important player in MLB history (and certainly over the past 60+ years). The decision several years ago to allow all players to wear the league-wide retired “42” #OB was a great one. And since JRR day fell on a Friday, it means all teams got to bust out the 42’s yesterday.
April 15th, of course, marks the anniversary of the date (4/15/47) when Jackie Robinson played his first major league game, becoming the first black player since the 1800’s to play in the bigs. When I’m the Commissioner, I’ll make some rules but my feeling (and I think Paul shares this as well) is this: Everyone wears 42 is about the DAY — April 15th — so on that day (and that day only) all clubs should wear 42. If you’re not scheduled? Too bad. There’s always next year. Game gets rained out? Oh well, you don’t get to wear 42 on some other day. Keep it special, and that means keeping wearing 42 to April 15th.
We’ve been through many JRR days before, so showing you photos of all teams wearing it is pointless. Nevertheless, there were some highlights from yesterday’s action:
It’s not just MLB that wears 42 — but it should be — except for UCLA, for whom Jackie played (and excelled at four sports: baseball, track, basketball and football). So, UCLA broke out some special unis yesterday:
Jackie Robinson Day uniforms for @UCLABaseball: ðŸ‘ https://t.co/Nck6G2AE0u pic.twitter.com/YOjwrHzxHw
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 15, 2016
It’s fine if everyone wears “42” — but it’s NOT fine if both teams wear red softball tops AND everyone has the same #OB. That’s gotta be a scorers’ nightmare:
Red vs Red in Minnesota. @UniWatch @PhilHecken #Twins #Angels pic.twitter.com/Dz2O9LzzuP
— Chad Jorgenson (@cjorgenson3) April 16, 2016
Some teams look better in 42 than others:
Today, we wear #Jackie42. pic.twitter.com/MYNnWrnGIM
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 15, 2016
Of course, JRR day is
an excuse a day to “honor” JRR by wearing special cleats, and these are just a sampling:
Excited to wear these today and thanks to @adidasBaseball for helping me honor Jackie Robinson #JackieRobinsonDay pic.twitter.com/VUh7k8GirQ
— Justin Upton (@JUST_JUP) April 15, 2016
#JackieRobinson #42 @nikebaseball @Nike pic.twitter.com/JhkRku92Lo
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) April 15, 2016
Today's cleats in honor of Jackie Robinson #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/60BLuspbOJ
— CC Sabathia (@CC_Sabathia) April 15, 2016
Jackie Robinson Day via @nikebaseball #swingman pic.twitter.com/KKJ8HkfITW
— jheytwotwo (@JasonHeyward) April 15, 2016
My @newbalance #jackierobinsonday cleats! @TheSoleRevival! #Donate at https://t.co/6VJiJEwpWh & enter the #giveaway! pic.twitter.com/l7ziDff53X
— Curtis Granderson (@cgrand3) April 15, 2016
Of course, the bases were decked out with JRR plaques:
Bases for tonight's #Astros–#Tigers game at Minute Maid Park will feature #JackieRobinsonDay jewels on each side. pic.twitter.com/OPCFrprhEu
— Mike Acosta (@AstrosTalk) April 15, 2016
And the mounds/infield (well, some of them):
1st Pitch: 7:10pm
ðŸ“» @KNBR #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/bQiFh3o8c1
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 16, 2016
All in the details. #Rays groundskeeper Dan Moeller put the final touches on the mound for #Jackie42. pic.twitter.com/nMkSW3KpmS
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 15, 2016
Pregame ceremonies starting up and ol' Number 42 is everywhere ðŸ”¥ðŸ’™ðŸ”¥#JackieRobinsonDay pic.twitter.com/Cs4RMHywd8
— omsports42 (@omsports42) April 16, 2016
And in the dugout:
In the dugout. #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/TehKdP4EHf
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 15, 2016
And on the scoreboards:
#Jackie42 by jastape86 pic.twitter.com/3FIwHLYxqA
— Warriors selfie (@warriorsselfie) April 16, 2016
#JackieRobinsonDay #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/yKfHtQ7orQ
— valerie wardlaw (@DrValWardlaw) April 16, 2016
The Padres wore their brown alts for JRR Day:
42 for all tonight #Jackie42 pic.twitter.com/PQZyH48ISJ
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 15, 2016
This is just so cool:
To recognize #JackieRobinsonDay, all players & coaches will wear number 42 today, the anniversary of his @MLB debut. pic.twitter.com/itqkcamCO9
— MLB Jersey Numbers (@NumbersMLB) April 15, 2016
And so is this:
Today, everyone wears #42. #JackieRobinsonDay https://t.co/z6d3wdAP2g pic.twitter.com/R2XIuWX8Y8
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) April 15, 2016
I will admit, this can be a bit confusing though:
We know which teams are playing, what no# pitchers are wearin..but not "who's" pitching #42? lol #Jackie42 Day #mlb pic.twitter.com/eHQRhhX5QM
— David Drummond (@leaveit4later) April 16, 2016
You can check out some great rare Jackie Robinson photos (from Sporting News) and also here (from Sports Illustrated).
Cornell vs. Princeton 11-21-64
Got the following e-mail from David Teigland and it’s totally excellent.
My dad came across a program from this game while going through some boxes in his basement. He figures it was saved by my mom when she visited her then-boyfriend, who was a freshman in college when she was still a senior in high school. My mom died several years ago, so I can’t confirm that story, but the program itself is in good shape. I took cell phone photos of some representative pages (uni-related and otherwise, including a blurb about the upcoming basketball season mentioning Bill Bradley). I’d be happy to mail it to you if you have any interest in it. I have plenty of stuff of my mom’s already, and I have no emotional connection or attachment to this piece of history. When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was you and your site. Too bad more of the pages aren’t in color.
Thanks David. Here’s a look at the photos described above (click to enlarge):
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it, Paul’s Friday Flashback on ESPN looked at Nets’ uniform history, which has included some memorable designs — though some of them were memorable for all the wrong reasons. The FF comes in response to one of the great uni-related stories of recent years — which came earlier this month from ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, who revealed the previously untold tale of how the New Jersey Nets almost renamed themselves the New Jersey Swamp Dragons in the 1990s. That in and of itself is a tremendous story — so be sure to check that link out as well.
Great read, so be sure to check it out if you didn’t catch it on Friday!
for the Ticker
Got a note earlier this week from Leo Strawn, Jr., who always has some great tidbits and stories. This one is more a bunch of ticker items, but…
It’s also a bit…Too Long For The Ticker…
Got a few that you can squeeze into the ticker if you wish:
Calvin Hill and Ted Kwalick signed with the WFL Hawaiians in 1974, contracted to play in 1975 after their NFL contracts ended. (Kwalick ended up playing his short stint in the WFL with the Philadelphia Bell.) This photo shows a rare shot the Hawaiians brown prototype helmet in front of Hill and Kwalick after signing with the Hawaiians in ’74 (they wore yellow helmets on field).
Not sure how accurate this is, but when the Oilers were moving to Tennessee, the name Copperheads was considered, and this photo reportedly shows a Copperheads prototype jersey.
NHL New Jersey Devils were originally the KC Scouts. After two seasons they moved to Denver and played as the Colorado Rockies. Apparently the Rockies recycled Kansas City’s sweaters with the Rockies logo for some preseason games in 1976, as seen on the club’s 1977-78 schedule.
That’s all for now. Cheers!
— Leo Strawn Jr
Thanks, Leo! As always, great stuff!
OK. Now, onto the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Pretty cool piece here on what baseball players eat (from Mary Bakija). … The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have some really awful alternate unis. … Check out these awesome 1870s throwback unis (h/t Andrew Musgrove). … Is it time for the Yankees to make a uniform change? … Vin Scully Patiently Explains Why 13 Isn’t An Unlucky Number (thanks Paul). … The Bowling Green Hot Rods are going to wear these camo numbers today (via Eric Leach). … Here’s a look at the THE OSU’s camo tops, if you can see them. … Speaking of camo — check out this digital camo battle between LaPine at Harrisburg, Oregon high school baseball (from Alex Allen). Oh, that’s Harrisburg batting. … Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 home run jersey will have a permanent home in New York. A trio of Mets fans, including Anthony Scaramucci founder and managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, Tony Lauto a retired Wall Street executive and an anonymous third party signed an agreement today to purchase the jersey in a private sale from Goldin Auctions for a record price of $365,000. More info here (from David Firestone). … The Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes wears a patent leather belt with his uni (from Tom). … The Orioles wore their BP caps yesterday. … Last evening the IE 66ers were wearing all black uniforms. Submitter Kristopher Sharpe adds “They were playing San Jose, and they’re wearing white over grey for some reason.”
NFL/Football News: “This is kinda cute,” says Marcus Kamp. The Seattle Seahawks have created a real-life version of their 2016 schedule by making the schedule in cupcake form. … Check out these, uh, UA woodgrain cleats for the Jags’ CB Davon House (h/t Dustin Kline). … The Cleveland Gladiators are holding a Cleveland Cavs night tonight, and wearing the Cavs wine & gold color scheme (from bodz). … If this graphic is any indication, the Seattle Seahawks will be going mono neon green when they play in the Color Rash tournament this fall (h/t Dave S.).
College Football News: The new turf at Mountaineers Field has been installed and it’s looking good (from Coleman Mullins). … Yesterday was “ring day” for the Carolina Tar Heels, as they received their hardware for winning the ACC’s Coastal Division (h/t James Gilbert). … Penn State’s helmets will feature a special sticker during their blue/white game. … Speaking of helmets, here’s an article on the “25 Coolest” college football helmets. … The Purdue Boilermakers unveiled new uniforms yesterday. … “Looking for something else and found this (ASU) helmet,” writes Christian Berumen. He’s “not sure if ASU has worn it before.”
Soccer News: Chicago Empire FC is an elite youth soccer organization, based in the Chicagoland suburbs and established in 2016. Steve Johnson notes, they have a “pretty cool logo with the Chicago skyline including the Ferris wheel which you don’t normally see when people do a skyline of Chicago.” … From Footy Headlines comes this 2016-17 Kits Overview — All Leaked and Official 16-17 Shirts. … The New Liverpool Jersey For Next Season Has Been Revealed, And It’s A Beauty (from Mikey Traynor via Paul). … “For their upcoming DFB Pokal semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, Hertha Berlin will wear a special kit for the fixture, which is pretty much just an off-the-peg Nike kit with a bear from Berlin’s coat of arms printed on it,” says Callum Johnson, who adds, “And Hertha and Nike have the cheek of charging â‚¬75 for it! Meanwhile, Hanover 96 celebrated its 120th anniversary (Thursday) night by wearing a special heritage kit produced by its kit supplier, the small German manufacturer JAKO. The shirt offered for sale to fans was limited to 1896 units, being retailed at â‚¬50. A more bespoke creation and cheaper than Hertha’s special kit, too. The kit worn by players at last night’s Bundesliga game, however, was blemished by their regular shirt sponsor, and featured a faux lace-up collar.” … FC Cincy is introducing an orange 3rd jersey for its game against Pittsburgh on May 14th.
Grab Bag: The Citadel is considering a request from an admitted student who is Muslim to wear a hijab ”” a notable exception to its uniform requirements. … Oooohhh: check out these vintage photographs of the Dakotah Curling Club as well as an unidentified Scottish curling team from 1903 (nice finds by Pete Woychick). Those would look great colorized, eh Pete? … Darrell Wallace Jr., otherwise known as Bubba Wallace, unveiled a new Tennessee Vols-Inspired NASCAR helmet designed by BEAM Designs for the upcoming race at Bristol Motor Speedway. … Here’s an index of every sports team whose logo Leonardo DiCaprio has worn on his hat (from Andrew Cosentino).
And that’s it for today. Everyone have a great Saturday — and thanks to everyone who tweeted (especially Megan Brown who contributed many of the JRR items) or emailed for the ticker, as well as David and Leo.
I’ll catch you guys tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Sorry, no one in the world is going to care if the Mets sold Ty Wigginton’s jersey from his oh-for-four outing against the Kansas City Royals on June 13, 2004. Probably not even Wigginton himself.”
We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace
So… what other basketball league on the planet is even remotely able to compete with the NBA right now? They already get the best of the best of the best.
This is greed. Pure and simple.
He’s not talking about being “competitive” with the EuroLeague or any other basketball league. He’s talking about being competitive with European soccer leagues, the Champions League, etc. in terms of television and sponsorship interest.
…and having ads on the jerseys is going to accomplish that in what way exactly? If someone cares about soccer more than basketball, a jersey patch isn’t going to change their mind.
Advertisers and television. On a Wednesday night in February, Company X may look at the demographics and ratings, and say “there are more eyes in our target demographic watching the NBA games on Eurosport (or whichever network has the rights) than the Champions League. Accordingly, it would be better to have our brand on the Warriors’ or Cavaliers’ jersey than on, say, AtlÃ©tico Madrid’s.”
For the record, I’m opposed to jersey advertising on an NBA jersey, too
But that’s the view for the advertiser. If the NBA is getting enough viewers to convince Company X to go with them instead of the soccer league… then… well, they don’t actually need the advertising, do they? Like I said, it’s literally nothing but greed. The NBA wants to make EVEN MORE MONEY, because reasons.
My sense is this move will cause an unexpected fan blowback. Reduced merchandise sales and sponsor boycotts will deliver the message.
Sadly, I don’t think most people are going to care at all.
Jeff is right, some fans might gripe about it for a bit, and then everybody will get used to it, like they did when ads on the court.
We have have have have to find a way as fans to ensure this blowback happens..I dunno how we all band together, but somehow we have to make this stop! I haven’t spoken with one single person or fan who is in favor of the uni ads, in fact most are very angry and concerned over it! Even the fan who least cares about uniforms knows this is a very very bad decision !
The Jersey Numbers 42 graphic is cool except for the fact that it’s inaccurate because at least four teams that I saw wore alternate jerseys. So it’s not a true representation.
And, sadly, I put Jackie Robinson Day in the same bucket with all of the other “special” jersey days MLB has now. The problem is that when you’re close to a dozen “special occasion uniform” days, then nothing is special. Throw in the fact that just about every team has an authentication program that sells game-worn “special occasion” jerseys/bases/bats, etc. (why else would you put a special base tag that you can’t see unless you have a close-up TV camera?) also make Jackie Robinson Day feel like just another cheap money-grab.
This is not a knock on Jackie Robinson or any of the other social/charity causes, this is a knock on MLB, NFL and NBA and their greediness to try to squeeze out every last possible buck available.
Since “close to a dozen” is actually five, and five of 162 is 3%, I think it’s safe to say that something that only happens 3% of the time (and only .6% of the time — once a year — for the 42) is still special, Rich.
If the ads become a financial success for the NBA, then I have no doubt that the other 3 leagues will follow suit. The owners are just as greedy.
The only team I can think of that could possibly stay away from it is the Yankees. I know they wore the Ricoh ad in the Japan series, but that may have been league mandated.
Agreed, it’s only a matter of time now that Pandora’s Box is open.
But what does “success” mean? Selling jersey ads will raise additional revenue. No doubt about that. But “make more money” is not necessarily the goal of everything a league does. The way the NBA is structuring the ad sales and revenue distribution imposes a fair bit of extra work on teams, and will tend to exacerbate financial disparities among teams based on local market size. There is a good chance that MLB and the NFL will look at the NBA’s experiment as a warning against jersey ad sales, at least with that model, even if the NBA inevitably achieves positive revenue.
Re: Uniform ads.
Last one out of the room, please turn off the lights.
A “new era” (no pun intended) has, sadly, begun.
The patent leather belts have appeared in MLB for a few years now. They’re manufactured by Mizuno, so you’ll only see them on players who have equipment deals with that brand. The glossy patent leather and larger belt buckle really stand out.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with soccer but I expected that I would care a lot more when one of the big four sports leagues announced uniform ads. If they’re done right these ads don’t need to be terrible. The nightmare scenarios of uniforms being more billboards than uniforms generally only happen in leagues that need to do that to survive. If you look at European soccer there have been uniform ads for around 40 years without escalation in the major leagues ( Ligue 1 is not a major league).
While I doubt the NBA will get to NASCAR levels, when you look at the average soccer jersey, the ad is the biggest, most recognizable thing on it. I fail to see that as a good thing. Sure, there’s a team crest too, but you can’t even tell what it is unless you’re wearing the shirt.
I’ve read a theory (probably here) that the reason why the ads on soccer jerseys became so large was that there was so much empty space on soccer uniforms. A small badge has always been the main visual identifier for most soccer teams, and I would argue that the nature of North American sports uniforms will prevent uniform ads from getting too large. I’m not really for uniform ads but I don’t think they’ll take away from my enjoyment of the NBA or any other league either. Call me ad agnostic.
I grew up watching soccer as well. In my opinion the difference between ad space on soccer jerseys and the “Big Four” North American sports is commercial breaks. If having an advertiser on an NBA jersey meant fewer commercial breaks (or non at all), then sign me up. Sadly, that’s not going to be the case.
I think it is so silly that UCLA wears #42 (and has retired it for all its teams). Robinson didn’t wear #42 there. Why not retire one of the numbers he actually wore?
Because that wouldn’t attract media attention?
By that logic MiLB should have worn 9 throughout the league because that’s what Jackie wore with the Montreal Royals
Nobody associates 9 or any other number with Robinson. Robinson is 42. Its the best way to honour him even if its not perfectly accurate.
To a 30 year old Yankee fan, number 42 could mean Mariano Rivera. Maybe all teams should be required to wear Brooklyn Dodgers unis. Actually, I bet Fred Wilpon would be down with that. ;)
I’m a Pacers fan and I don’t own a jersey NOW, can’t imagine owning one with a Steak-N-Shake logo on it… and I love me some Steak-N-Shake.
Canadian Football League has been wearing similar sized ads on their jerseys in the same spot where the NBA ads will be.
The ads are not on jerseys that they sell for retail. No worries George, I would think that the NBA would do something similar. You should be able to buy an NBA jersey and it will not have ads on it.
I suspect we’re too small a minority to make enough difference regarding ads on uniforms. If there were boycotts, widespread ridicule and punishment for the companies that trampled the sport’s tradition by putting their logos on the uniforms, the NBA and other leagues would take note, but that seems unlikely to materialize. For my part, they do kill my interest. I can’t watch soccer at all because the ads ruin the uniforms for me — ugly uniforms, no interest. I’ve also heard a non-fan losing a spark of interest in soccer because she got tired of trying to remember who was Sprint and who was Chevrolet.
If you can’t watch a sport because of uniform ads you weren’t going to be a fan of that sport anyways. I can’t stand NASCAR and it has nothing to do with sponsorships.
People are different. I used to watch some soccer and don’t any more. These days, if I stumble across a game and I if I ever casually start watching, when they get in close enough to see the uniforms, I lose interest. And I can pretty much guarantee my interest in the NBA will never be the same.
I’ll agree with Skye here. To pick the uniforms as a reason for not watching a sport, pretty petty to me. People are slapped across the face with every sporting event with ads…uniforms are pretty minor compared to EVERYTHING else.
Not saying “yay” or “nay” regarding advertisers on uniforms. But an NBA game that is 48-minutes on the clock but lasts over two hours in total time is because of advertisers. How dare a uniform get in the way with my ability to enjoy a game since it has ads on it!
I’ve hated watching just about every frame of baseball imagery becoming dominated by the same handful of noxious corporate logos. I do wish the uniforms would be declared an ad-free zone.
However, I disagree with folks who say they hope it will remain one major advertiser in a prime location. When they (fairly recently) started putting backstop ads in baseball games, I found it incredibly distracting, and still often do. But now more MLB teams’ backstops are looking like the ones in Japan: so littered with signage that I feel the players return to being the visual focal point, weird as that may sound.
It’s funny, I was planning on titling this piece “As so it begins” (a fairly famous J.R.R. Tolkien quote)
Also, please never again call them “logos”…they are “ads.”
Jackie Robinson Day is very frustrating if you turn an out of town game on in progress and don’t know who is hitting or pitching. It could easily be solved with a small graphic indicating pitcher and hitter, which a few telecasts already have.
Gah! Thanks, Steve. Fixed.
I agree with “everyone wearing 42 is dumb”. I tuned into the Marlins Braves and not being able to identify the players was a reason I tuned out after three batters.
Not a Yankee fan, but changing their uniform is the last thing to be done in baseball. Iconic and stylish. Also having 27 World Series victories helps keep that look timeless.
As a longtime Yankee-hater, I have to agree that they may have the balls (and financial resources) to refuse uniform ads should baseball make that huge mistake. They refused the side panels, where we knew the Mets would fold like a cheap tent.
As for changing the Yankee uniform, I believe it was George Steinbrenner’s mania that has actually prevented any changes since 1973. In 1973, they went to double knits, the current Wilson varsity numbers and white outlines on the road. Nothing except MLB logos has changed since and that is commendable. One other thing they did in 1973, that I wish they hadn’t, was go to link. I think link look better with pinstripes…that’s one thing the Mets have never screwed up.
You don’t pull on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you don’t mess with the pinstripes.
Customarily I’m the first person to say “Tradition is what you have when you’re not smart enough to change” But the Yankees’ tradition is a good one, insofar as they’ve bucked new ideas of questionable value. Names on the back add clutter. Alternate softball jerseys look minor-league. Corporate advertisers renaming the stadium glorify greed. And the design of the uniform is solid. Since I’m a tinkerer at heart, I might add pinstripes to the road uniform and subtract the white outlines; I like to think the road uniform isn’t as near and dear as the home suit since it isn’t worn in front of the home fans. But part of the value added in visiting Yankee Stadium is getting to see the Bombers in those uniforms, don’t you agree?
I was going to do the standard complaint of the footy fan when MLS is not considered “a major sports league” that already has jersey ads / sponsorship…
But then i read this and couldnt stop laughing.
” now that this dyke has been breached,”
I haven’t followed NBA for a long time, but from what I’ve seen it seems that (1) Adam Silver is a particularly nasty piece of work and (2) some advertisers will be more equal than others. Pretty likely that firearms, tobacco, liquor and cannabusinesses won’t ever be approved to advertise. Fast food? Maybe in the first few years, but probably not thereafter. Porn? Probably not early on, but likely in future waves. A team whose biggest star is getting on in years? Probably stuck with Viagra ads.
The interplay between individual player endorsements and team ads could get a little bit thorny: what if an Adidas shoe endorses gets traded to a team with Nike ads on the jerseys?
Ads for advocacy organizations is where it could get really nasty. If militant vegans were to put “meat is murder” on some team’s jerseys, that is likely forcing players to publicly display a political position they find abhorrent. Yet there are many advocacy organizations that the leagues would be reluctant to turn away.
Teams are greedy, but they aren’t really dumb business people.
Through all the ads we see in sport, there really hasn’t been any that has gotten to be THAT controversial. UFC curbed their ads rather quickly, even before their Reebok deal (i.e., Condom Depot).
I wouldn’t imagine you’d see a team really do something that will cause major alienation due to their ads. They don’t around the arena/stadium do they? Sure, there’s alcohol, but no firearms or anything. Heck, definitely won’t see any firearms since “Bullets” is too violent for the NBA.
These ads aren’t anything new to sport. Just new to NBA. Again, as I previously posted, it’s not saying “I’m in favor,” it’s just recognizing that it gets along just fine with little-to-no issues.
Yes, some minor league, Sunday league, rec league, or whatever has come out with a porn sponsor. That doesn’t count.
I can forgive Ads on WNBA jerseys and MLS Jerseys (even if they look terrible) because the revenue goes to keep the league/teams alive and competitive. MLS fans want their teams to have a sponsorship because that money is spent to get better players and improve the quality of play. It’s the same with international soccer leagues. That money either keeps the team solvent, or allows them to buy new players. The NBA is the dominant league in their sport with a salary cap, a closed franchise system and no relegation. Ad revenue will not make any team better or improve quality of play. The money will just go to the pockets of Millionaires and Billionaires who don’t need it and the product will be worse (aesthetics not gameplay). If that money were used to reduce ticket prices or the cost of TV packages or to build stadiums instead of tax money, it would be forgivable, but no, it’s 100% greed.
It’s important to note that these sponsorships worldwide are often dealing in “open systems” instead of “closed systems.” So, that’s why it’s even more important. There’s absolutely no guarantee that any team in a specific soccer league worldwide will continue to play in the same league year-to-year. They rely on the money to help keep them up — as you mentioned, player salaries, coach salaries, etc.
A closed system keeps the rich getting richer. An open system breeds competitiveness. Get better…or go down.
They don’t? Since when would a Barcelona turn down money if it helps them buy Neymar? Suarez? Anyone else?
Every dollar, in their minds, helps them win League, Champions League, and even Club World Cup. There’s always trophies to be won by these international clubs.
Unlike here in the States, you play for the league championship, that’s really it.
Arguably, teams in the big European leagues might not need kit money, given money from other streams including TV rights (especially in The Premier League).
Wouldn’t it be interesting if some programming wizard developed software to remove uni advertising from broadcast video. Something similar to the technology used to display the first down yardage on the gridiron.
Also intriguing is the situation were, for example, major broadcast advertiser for car A has to share viewer space with uni ads for car brand B. You can bet car brand A will knocking on the door for a discount or rebate on advertising costs paid to the broadcaster.
The day the uni died. Bye bye Miss America pie.
While it’s great to honor Jackie Robinson, I think having every team wear #42 cheapens the honor. Wear jersey patches, hat patches, cut “42” into the grass or pitcher’s mound at every park, put “42” on all TV broadcasts, etc., but not on the back of every player. It just makes it hard to cover for the media broadcaster and fans to differentiate between players. The point of having numbers on the players in the first place is to be able to tell them apart.
Couldn’t agree more, Cris.
The entire point of numbers on sports uniforms is to tell players apart. Lacking that, there is no point.
What if, next year, the D-Backs had a game (or games) where every player wore no name and the number 20, to celebrate their 20th season? I wonder how the Uni-verse would treat that. This is fundamentally no different. There are plenty of other ways to honor Robinson’s accomplishments; this one doesn’t pass the “gimmick” sniff-test.
Agreed. Plus, there comes a time when “honoring” becomes “patronizing”.
MLB is “trying too hard”, perhaps to compensate for the declining number of black players and the African-American community’s general disinterest in the sport?
It’s a feel good measure. A chance for everyone involved to show how socially conscious they are without having to actually do anything.
Jackie Robinson Day, when Major League Baseball congraulates itself.
All players wearing no. 42 is silly, and is certainly not necessary in order for Major League Baseball to pay tribute to Robinson.
We get a bit sloppy when we talk about 42 as a “retired number.” Here’s what then-Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said on that fateful April 15, 1997:
“Number 42 belongs to Jackie Robinson for the ages. Number 42, from this day forward, will never again be issued by a major-league club.”
“Never again be issued.” While I suppose it’s possible to argue a narrow, technical definition of “issue” that keeps the annual everyone-wears-42 stunt just barely within the letter of Selig’s edict, it’s beyond debate that every club issuing the number 42 to every player and coach violates the spirit of the original gesture.
I’m afraid I disagree. While their heart may have been in the right place, MLB’s retirement of Jackie’s 42 had the potential of sticking it in a coffin. Making sure that everyone gets to wear it once (and only once) a year keeps Jackie’s memory current and fresh. It also keeps his name on the lips of baseball fans every season and I find that a more fitting tribute. Maybe it makes the game a bit harder to follow, but that’s the way they did it before 1929 and baseball somehow survived.
A couple of thoughts on the ads:
1. Anybody else notice that when the NBA needed to “clean up” the game (especially regarding the drug problems among players), they hired David STERN and now that they’re trying to find new ways to earn revenue no matter what they bring on Adam SILVER? (Apologies before the fact if anybody takes this as being anti-Semitic, I mostly just found it an amusing coincidence).
2. While I hate the idea of ads on uniforms, it’s a little odd that fans keep referring to the NBA owners as “greedy” for approving this, when making money is the whole idea behind owning and/or operating a business.
3. Let’s not act like other sports leagues, like the NFL and NCAA, haven’t had ads on their uniforms for years…what do you think that “checkmark” on the sleeves is? Call it a “maker’s mark” if you want, but it’s an advertisement just the same.
I have a feeling that sabrmetricians will drive me away from baseball long before before ads get the chance. Much like the celebration of showboating me-firsters did the NFL.
Jon Rose: I gotta ask, then, what sports do you watch, since all of them feature players who celebrate after wins, good plays, etc.?
I didn’t mean the players’ celebration. That was poorly worded on my part. I meant the sport and media that cover it celebrating such players.
Okay, makes sense.
As a die-hard Yankees fan, I *almost* completely disagree with that article. First of, I personally love the Yankees road greys. I honestly think they’re a vastly underrated set. Secondly, I’m not in favor of the Yankees ever having any kind of regular third jersey. That said, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a throwback once a year or so (off the top of my head, 1939 and 1951homes, 1912 road, and anything involving the 1916 cap would be welcome). However, I’m sure they would never contain it to one series a year.
While enjoying the joyful hoops goodness in this Golden State video, I found myself asking, ‘Cripes, how many unis did they wear this year?’ and ‘What were the anthracites with red stripes about?’.
Those would be their Chinese New Year uniforms. They are very popular.
I’m not planning to make any more NBA purchases from teams/Nike until they remove the ads, so my Pistons Billups/Villinueva Jersey’s may be the last I have. It’s a good think Kobe got out now for this reason at least.
As for JR day, as someone who has worked in Accounting, April 15th is not generally a happy day for the industry as you have tons of people who just expect you to do everything for them withing 20 minutes so they can get it over with but forgot until that day…makes JR day (the date, not the player and his history) as something not great for beancounters.