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Sports Authority

Klaus: Advertisements on jerseys does more harm than good for NBA

| Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reports surfaced Tuesday afternoon indicating NBA league owners were expected to come to agreement on a rule that would allow advertisement patches to be a part of jerseys beginning as soon as next season, something that has been speculated for quite some time in the league’s recent history.

Now, it can quickly become trivial to get unnecessarily agitated over a 2.5-by-2.5 inch patch that will assume a meager percentage of the overall jerseys, but, as a traditionalist in most respects when it comes to sports, I — like a number of fans of the sport — would prefer not to have jerseys bogged down by advertising.

Undoubtedly, the only reasons for putting advertisements on jerseys are financially motivated. It is estimated that each advertising logo could generate four to six million dollars in additional revenue for each team. While this may seem like a significant amount of money, it is relatively small by NBA standards. For example, it is barely sufficient for the Miami Heat to cover the annual salary of reserve forward Josh McRoberts, who averages a basically insignificant 3.6 points per game.

Simply put, taking the risk of upsetting a potentially large numbers of a sport’s fan base just does not seem worth it for a league that is already incredibly profitable, especially when the added value of the move is — relatively speaking — not that valuable.

Moreover, the new earnings from advertisements will almost assuredly spark debate between team owners and the player’s union on how the extra earnings will be allocated.

Obviously, there are existing professional sports leagues that have had success with inserting advertisements on jerseys, but there is a reason that all four major American sports — the NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL — currently have jerseys that are free of ads, despite how money-centric each of these leagues is.

The worst potential outcome of Tuesday’s report and ultimate implementation would be a set of consequences where the NBA — and potentially other major American sports leagues — cascades into more extreme placements of ads on jerseys. Certainly, getting past the initial impediment for ads on jerseys will make subsequent and more severe transformations increasingly feasible.

When it comes to sports, advertisements have an undeniably enormous footprint on many facets of all popular professional leagues, whether it be through commercials or an assortment of signage. For major American professional sports, jerseys are one of the few features of games that have managed to steer clear of advertisements, which suggests just how much value people perceive them to have. Overall, when comparing the potential benefits against the costs and possible future negative ramifications of it all, the NBA’s move to reportedly include ad patches on jerseys for next season is both head-scratching and unnecessary.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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