Can Jersey Advertisments Thrive in America?


Many within the sports world believe advertisments on jerseys are “inevitable,” but is America ready for this kind of sponsorship?
Many within the sports world believe advertisements on jerseys are “inevitable,” but is America ready for this kind of sponsorship?

According to CBS Sports, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s recent statement that advertisements on jerseys will be “inevitable” has caused controversy due to the league’s formerly staunch stance against such licensing. This change in philosophy from the NBA sparks an interesting question: Why isn’t advertising  on any of America’s four major sports jerseys already?

If you only watch the MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL, which a majority of Americans do, the thought of an advertisement on a sports jersey is odd. Imagine seeing LeBron James dunking with the Budweiser logo across his chest or Mike Trout hitting a home run with a Chevrolet logo on his jersey. It would be a visual difference, but that’s all.

If you watch sports around the world, you would be accustomed to seeing advertisements on the players’ jerseys. Every soccer club has a sponsor on their jerseys, and  most teams have had them since the 1970s. Since putting advertisements on jerseys, most franchises have profited quite nicely.

According to Sports Illustrated, in 2010, the English Premier League’s 20 teams earned $155 million for selling advertising space on their jerseys for a single season. That makes one wonder how much the NFL, MLB, NHL and the NBA would make in a year.

Horizon Media did research on that and discovered that the four leagues would make $370 million The real question now has to be, why wouldn’t they?

Those opposed to advertising on American sports jerseys see it as a form of American exceptionalism; everybody else in the world is doing it but we’re not. Paul Lukas, an ESPN columnist, follows this philosophy, saying “People often deride Americans for being too capitalistic or selling anything, but here’s a piece of our heritage and our visual culture that we have not sold, while the rest of the world has. I think that’s something to be proud of, and I hope that continues to be the case.”

With Adam Silver’s liberal view regarding advertising on sports jerseys, it seems as though we are seeing the end of an old era and a beginning of a new one in how we visually watch American sports. A new frontier will break open among America’s sports leagues in making profits. The question now is which league will take the dangerous first step in the wilderness of what some purists will call excess and businessmen will call common sense? Take your bet.