You see them everywhere in this fast paced society that we live in. Advertisements are on almost everything we visually and audibly absorb. As we stare into our computer and phone screens, ads line the sides on whatever we are reading. Almost everything we are watching, we are interrupted of by a video pushing a product. The good news... our minds are finally figuring out how to tune out all the nonsense, and focus on what is important.
How does this relate to the NBA? Well, they decided to put advertisements on their jerseys, and an form of a 2.5" x 2.5" patch of the shoulder of the jersey. There was an uproar early on, but now, the silence is deafening surrounding this addidtion. This was proposed late in last season and the patches began appearing on the jerseys this year. All the people who cried out for the blockage of "free enterprise" way back when this was announced, can't be heard as much. Why? Because you completely forgot and barely notice the patches.
Earlier this month, the Hornets became just the 19th team to sell ad space on their jerseys. The below list shows all sponsors and the affiliated team.
Lending Tree, the Hornets sponsor, is paying somewhere between $5-$7 million per year of their deal. Every deal signed with a NBA team has a 3 year term. This is due in part, to the NBA trial time period. After these next 3 years, the NBA will take a look at the state of the league and the opinions of the press, and weigh whether or not this was for good or it ruined a the brand loyalty.
It can be gathered that the average team is getting paid somewhere around $9 million per year for the 2.5" x 2.5" patch. The most lucrative deal is a partnership between the Warriors and Rakuten. The deal is said to be around $20 million per year (I mean they do have 4 superstars, 2 championships in 3 years, and one of the most winningest teams in NBA history, so.... makes a little sense why their number is so big). Other big names include the Lakers at somewhere around $13 million a year, and the Cavaliers with an agreement of $10 million per.
But why basketball? Why has basketball been the first of the 4 major U.S. professional sports to blatantly advertise? Basketball is synonymous with being progressive. Earlier this week Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, was talking about legalized betting across the league. This makes the transition easy for the league to create advertisements on the jerseys. Basketball is a more intimate game, with players faces out and in the open. Close-ups consistently after every play, timeout, and free-throws. You are staring at the players and their jerseys. All that air-time is free publicity for the sponsor.
My personal opinion... slight money grubbing, but why hinder a business trying to make money. Yes there was an outcry in the beginning, what will brand loyalty become? How can you ruin the sanctity of sports?! Look around, ads are literally everywhere in athletics. They are on the field/court, and in broadcasters words throughout a game. Hell, companies can sponsor homeruns and every field goal is sponsored by an insurance company.
I will give you this, there is a fine line that they are walking. What is to stop them from becoming like soccer with multiple banners of corporate publicity all over the jerseys? I hear you. I don't want the jersey to look like one of a soccer team. The patch is small, and they have one lengths to make it match the color scheme and not what the logo normally looks like. Jerry Sienfeld has publicly stated that you are basically "rooting for laundry" when you root for your sports team. The only difference is you like the color and city they are affiliated with. This was back on an intro for his show, but it still rings true today.
These little patches are currently no harm, and like most of the world you either forgot that they were there, or you were watching a game and had a slight epiphany of, "Oh yeah, they did start to do this." Yes the "tyrannical" forces of the invisible hand is stepping into the light, but honestly what is the harm? Are you really that offended by a 2.5" x 2.5" piece of stitching or labeling? For one writer, I am not.
If the first quarter of the NBA season is any indication of what is to come, the patches will never go away. Those millions of dollars could have a direct impact on the product on court or in the stands. I believe that those millions of dollars can create a better experience at a game. The money can possibly lead to an owner being able to use that money in luxury tax spending in order to get better players. More importantly what if it leads to a beer being just $1 less than it is now...? I would say that is a good thing we can all get behind here.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to give me your thoughts on whether you like or dislike what the NBA is doing or anything that I said. You can call the Drunk Line (440-37-DRUNK), let us hear it on the Craft Brewed Sports Facebook Group, or in the comments of the article. Also, be sure to tune in every Friday night at 9:30pm ET on Facebook Live for the newest episode where we'll be breaking down everything sports, beer, and shenanigan related.