The Unnecessary Grossness of the Jersey Ad – Chiefs Digest

Posted: July 2, 2020 at 7:51 pm


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I dont watch a lot of basketball. If Im a fan of any team, its the Indiana Pacers. I watched them all the time when Reggie Miller was at his peak and I was dumb enough to believe they ever had a real shot at winning a championship. Now I just watch the playoffs and finals. I dont even know 90% of the players in the league anymore, I just like big sports spectacles with stakes and tension.

The absolute grossest thing about watching the NBAs television product right now is the jersey ads. I didnt even know it was a thing that happened until I turned on a playoff game a few years ago and all of a sudden the Cleveland Cavaliers had a Goodyear logo on their chest. The Pacers were among the very last to adopt a corporate sponsor of their jersey, but they eventually slapped on a big ugly Motorola logo.

Thereve been talks for a while now about the MLB doing something similar and turning their jersey sleeves into sellable ad-space. Despite how much baseballs cultural relevancy has declined, the idea of ancient teams like the Yankees, Cubs, or Reds sporting a fat RAGU CHUNKY SAUCE logo is just obscene.

There hasnt really been anything tangible pointing to the NFL doing jersey ads, but if basketball has already done it and baseball is planning and hoping for it, you can safely assume its on footballs mind.

The NFLs reach is so massive. Its viewership so entirely eclipses all other sports in America that selling ad-space on jerseys would be the most visible (and, for the advertiser, expensive) incarnation of the jersey ad in the country. Football teams covering uniforms in ads wouldnt feel quite as nothing is sacred as if and when baseball does it, but it would be one of the most blatant expressions of greed in sports history.

When the NBA started making their players living, breathing, dribbling commercials, it was under the guise of the companies that pay for the privilege of helping to elevate the leagues and individual teams brands. This is obviously not reality. Based on my painstaking research method of living in Indiana, Ive determined Motorolas Pacers partnership has added a grand total of zero new Pacers fans.

The ads arent even aesthetically nice. They couldnt make them blend more seamlessly because then people might not notice them. Instead, you end up with trashy messes like the Thunder with a bright yellow and red Loves Travel Stops logo.

There isnt a corporate jersey sponsorship that would significantly increase the NFLs permeation of American culture. It feels like were already at critical mass there. So making Patrick Mahomes a literal billboard would be a cynical money-move with legitimately zero benefit for fans. Yet, it feels inevitable that at some point during the Chiefs upcoming 10 consecutive championships well be watching them hold up the Lombardi with everyones last names replaced with CHEEZ-IT SNAPD.

Sports is ultimately a business, and money means more to these leagues than anything. I get that. I wont even get that annoyed if and when the NFL tarps off the lower sections of stadiums and replaces seats with advertising signage. Id rather not be inundated with even more corporate logos during football games, but it somehow feels slightly less unappealing than watching games played in front of empty seats.

But the alternative to having ads on uniforms is to just not have ads on uniforms. Which is ultimately what makes the NBA already doing it and the MLB wanting to do it so gross. These arent leagues that need those ads to survive. So theyre selling space on their players bodies for no reason other than money-worship.

Hopefully the NFL has had a rare moment of self-awareness and realizes the money-grubbing image of selling jersey ads isnt worth the extra cash theyd bring in. But its difficult to imagine the NFL ever being self-aware, so thats probably a doomed hope.

When I was a kid and played Babe Ruth League baseball, our league functioned on the company-sponsored teams model. I didnt play for the Tigers or Bears, I played for McDonalds, Lynch Construction, and Pizza King. Granted, that was Babe Ruth League and not a professional enterprise, but it is an example of when jersey ads are not only palatable but ultimately beneficial.

McDonalds was the exception in my towns Babe Ruth League. Most of the teams were sponsored by local businesses or small local chains. Any funding they provided went into the league itself and the players and their families got discounts or free food from the business that sponsored their team. A pretty even exchange that had some benefit for everyone involved.

If you expand that concept from youth leagues to the pros, the smaller semi-pro and pro leagues that dont have nearly the exposure of the NBA, MLB, NFL, etc. can actually use the money they get from selling jersey ads. It still feels a little gross to see it on TV, but the players feel a bit less like living NASCAR stock cars when theyre not playing in a multi-billion dollar league.

Ads arent fun. Thats all this really comes down to. Ads arent fun, and putting them on a human when you already basically have infinite money tiptoes on the borderline of evil. Its that particular brand of capitalistic evil that weve been so drunk on for so long we think its normal.

It wont make me stop watching, but I will feel really slimy and rotten when I see Mahomes execute his first no-look pass wearing a glowing, digital neon visor sponsored by BAR HARBOR CLAM JUICE.

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The Unnecessary Grossness of the Jersey Ad - Chiefs Digest

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:51 pm

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