You will receive zero argument from me about any American individual or company in the (generally) free market trying to add income or revenue from wherever they can.
Yet, just because one can easily add revenue to the bottom line, does not mean that they should.
As the NBA slowly moves towards what feels like will eventually be full-on advertisements on their jerseys in replacement of team names (like many teams in the WNBA), the league has dipped their toe in the jersey into billboard water with the addition of a small logo of a prime sponsor on uniforms near the left shoulder (directly opposite of the bulbous Nike swoosh, the league’s new uniform provider).
Beginning this season, the NBA will allow teams to sell sponsorship patches on their uniforms. These approximately 2.5×2.5 inch patches are the NBA’s first foray into NASCAR-style uniforms, potentially eventually highlighting their uniforms with corporate names, and not the cities or nicknames that truly are the essence and foundation of each franchise.
Not one of us, the fans, will ever associate our fandom with a corporation. In Arizona we will always openly support the Phoenix Suns, and never their sponsors.
“I’m a fan of the Phoenix Suns sponsored by Lobster Cola,” said no one, ever.
That is why the addition of corporate sponsorship patches on uniforms is so upsetting to so many. We are already inundated with more commercials in our lives than we can fathom as it is. In truth, uniforms are almost literally the last bastion of non-sponsored freedom that we have. Big-four professional jerseys are the last frontier of advertisement-free viewing that fans have to watch their favorite sports in the most pure and traditional form.
Literally everything else in our public lives from a YouTube video (have you ever tried watching a hilarious commercial on YouTube, only to have to watch a commercial BEFORE the commercial? Ugh!), to the name of the sports stadiums and playing surfaces themselves, has some sort of corporate sponsorship or otherwise reference to a company plastered somewhere on it.
And yet here we are, in 2017, after the league has already signed a massive television contract that has allowed players to make more money than God at this point, and the league and it’s owners are grasping desperately for more. (The NBA’s new television contract is a reported $24 BILLION dollars over nine years, for an average of $88,888,888 per team, per year. This is just national television revenue alone and thus is on top of local television deals and sponsorships as well.)
Additionally, in the new collective bargaining agreement, NBA superstars have the ability to sign what is known as a “supermax” contract, which both James Harden and Steph Curry used to sign their extensions this offseason. Harden, in particular, will make over $46M in the final year of his deal, a figure would be nowhere near possible without the television contract.
To put this in a way that will blow your mind, in 2004-05 (Steve Nash’s first season back with the Suns after signing as a free agent – who, let’s be honest, is better than James Harden), the league salary cap per team was $43.87M.
Is the NBA really in any need of more money?