NBA Enters Slippery Slope with Ads on Jerseys

(Photo via bloomberg.com)

People fall in love with sports for many reasons; some are drawn to the big lights and the entertainment presented in front of them, and others crave that intense roller-coaster ride of emotions. But I would think many of us can agree on a common attribute that we all love in our games – well, that it’s just a game. We appreciate all these things because we consciously allow ourselves to take time out of our long, strenuous days, and simply just watch a game. That is why sometimes it pains us to see when that game that we love gets overly-influenced by the powers that too often corrupt the world we live in: Money. When I heard that the NBA had accepted the proposal to put advertisements on their jerseys, I was disappointed in them; falling prey to the money game, once again.

While it’s no secret that sports are a multi-billion dollar industry, and players are probably making more money than they should be, because of the capitalistic society that we live in, we must accept their right to exist and operate freely. But, we have to start thinking about how far we want money and profits taking over the game that we love.

When the league puts ads on their NBA jerseys, die-hard sports fans, and casual fans too, will lose that connection and playfulness that they value in a game because now it just becomes another constant reminder that their favorite game is being controlled by the money machine. And the league must like it that way, so much so that they favor stitching it on their chest. I hope the NBA would understand that the reason we like the game so much isn’t because it makes them lot of money. But instead, we appreciate the raw, live action that it brings us every day, away from the outside world, even if it’s only for a few hours. We shouldn’t have to be reminded of the constant stresses of the outside world when we enter the sports realm.

Now, we know this is a great business opportunity for the league. When asked about the three-year pilot program, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “People are watching less live television outside of sports. People are watching fewer commercials. This will become an important opportunity for companies for connecting directly with their consumers,” (ESPN.com). Clearly, Silver understands, and is definitely excited by this opportunity to bring in more money for their ever expanding business. Furthermore, according to Daren Rovell in his recent ESPN article on the deal, he noted that Silver projected the deal to bring about $100 million dollars per year in revenue. Seems like a large number, however Rovell says, “It’s a small opportunity relative to the league’s overall revenues, which Silver said are projected to be $7 billion in the 2017-18 season.” (ESPN.com)

If it’s such a small opportunity, then why must the league always take the side where the money is and not the side that we wished they would go? They should make more efforts to de-monetize the game and preserve the aspects of sports that we value so much. Does distracting the fan with advertisements placed on the game jerseys really reinforce their love of the game? Of course not. So, what’s the point?

I may be overthinking this, but I am sure people can all agree that the games are more exhilarating and captivating when we are not thinking of the profit motive behind it. Sure, FIFA has had ads on their jerseys for some time now, but it’s pretty evident they have large problems of their own. It’s time to rethink where we want sports to go in the future.

– J. Yellin

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