It’s always about the money, but the NBA’s latest move has gone too far.
On April 15, 2016, the NBA Board of Governors approved jersey sponsorships, in which a 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of game jerseys. This is going to take effect in the 2017-18 season, when Nike takes over for Adidas as the league’s uniform and apparel provider.
It’s not a great look.
While the patch is designed to be small and discreet, this is a big jump for the NBA. It is the first of the four major U.S. sporting leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) to allow sponsorships on team jerseys. Other leagues such as the WNBA and MLS have utilized sponsorships on jerseys for years, predominantly showing company names larger than the name of the team itself.
This isn’t the way for the NBA.
Fans, I don’t want to see advertisements during every second of a game. Save the ads for commercials; people just want to watch basketball.
As of Feb. 15, six teams in the NBA have sponsorship deals for jersey patches next season: the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz.
Some look better than others.
For example, General Electric’s patch on Boston’s jerseys works almost seamlessly since the logo matches the color of the jerseys. Utah’s also goes with the team’s color scheme, and even the Blue Diamond logo on Sacramento’s jerseys matches the team colors.
The logos that look the worst on the jerseys belong to Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Advice to team’s in the future: don’t put a boxy logo on your jerseys.
Philadelphia’s sponsor is StubHub, and at least the colors in the logo match the team, even if it is an awkward box on a jersey. For Brooklyn, however, the bright red box that is Infor’s logo stands out like a sore thumb. Red is not part of the team’s color scheme, and Infor probably didn’t want to sacrifice its logo just to match Brooklyn’s black and white jerseys.
The result is an eyesore that fans will have to look at for at least 82 games next season.
The good side of the sponsorship deal is that it does not affect sold merchandise, so fans don’t have to buy a jersey with a sponsorship patch on it.
Still, these patches put a dent in the experience of an NBA fan. The sponsorships will bring teams a large amount of revenue, but at the cost of marketing their teams to an unappealing point.
I’m sure fans will get used to them at some point as sponsorship patches become the new normal. If this test run is successful, it is always a possibility that the NBA will expand the amount of sponsorships allowed on jerseys as well.
It just takes one push over the hill, and it’s going to gain momentum as seasons go by. But we’ll be able to remember when jerseys weren’t canvases for advertisements, and were just about playing the game.
Elizabeth Swinton is a broadcasting and visual media major from Linden, N.J. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @eswint22.