Sorry to paraphrase one of the classic misquoted lines from the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (Right up there with “play it again Sam” which also wasn’t said exactly that way). The actual line from the movie goes like this.
The NBA Board of Governors is expected to vote sometime this summer to allow advertising patches to be added to jerseys starting as early as the 2013-14 season. The rumor is that the patch would be 2 and a half inches high and wide just above the heart. It wouldn’t be terribly distracting in that location.
Now I understand completely how the league could be enthused about having advertising patches on their uniforms. It is revenue for the league from both the companies buying the ads and from the consumers who buy new uniforms to reflect the new look uniform.
But is it really a win/win for the league?
One has to wonder. Just how damaging could it be for the NBA’s image to be seen as the first major league in the USA to accept advertising on their uniforms? It’s not like the league needs the money after all. Sure smaller market teams, like the Memphis Grizzlies, get the short end of the stick financially around the league, but how exactly would the revenue work anyway? Would the teams be responsible for selling the ads or the league? Would the revenue be spread equally or would the local markets dictate the income solely for their team?
If the league sells the patches for all teams how would they decide which company gets the patch? If the teams sell their own patches, which is what NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver implied would happen, isn’t this just another example of the rich teams getting richer? How would that help the competitive balance in the league?
And does the league even want competitive balance? It wouldn’t appear to be the case when, after months of labor negotiations to ensure a system that would make the league more balanced, super teams start popping up all over the NBA landscape. If Los Angeles is able to acquire Dwight Howard, Miami can get Ray Allen then what’s to stop these teams from making a mockery of the salary cap with more revenue advantages from selling ads on their uniforms?
How will a team like Memphis be able to keep up with the spending?
The good news is that the NBA Board of Governors isn’t deaf or blind. There is a lot of evidence that the fans hate the idea of advertisements on their team’s uniforms. An ESPN SportsNation Poll found that 71% of the fans opposed the idea. The NBA’s own site found 84% of fans against it. There are many other polls being taken and the answer from the fans is pretty uniform (pardon the pun). They don’t like it.
It will be interesting to see if the Board of Governors sticks their noses up at the fans and moves ahead anyway.