About a year and a half ago, hockey teams started putting sponsorship logos on their jerseys. The Detroit Red Wings began this disturbing trend with their Amway sponsorship, and fans weren’t happy. At all. Soon this disturbing trend spread to other, non-cash strapped Original Six teams like the Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks. Hockey fans were in an uproar. Sure, these were just practice jerseys, but having a sponsorship on any jersey — especially ones with Original Six logos — was just cringe inducing. Fans worried if the next step was sponsorship on the regular jersey, a la teams in international leagues, which could probably be referred to as “NASCAR on ice.” The trend continued to spread, to where a good chunk of teams all the way to the Florida Panthers are featuring corporate sponsors on practice jerseys.
This turned into a grin-and-bear it situation for the fans. Sure, the NFL’ve been wearing logos splashed on their practice uniforms for ages, and no one seems to care. Hockey fans seem to be a little bit different about their teams jerseys, though. Protective comes to mind — protective of the tradition surrounding the crest on the front. Minor league teams have sponsors on their jerseys, but fans figure it’s a necessity. It is not a necessity for a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins to have a corporate logo next to their crest. Jerseys are sacred to fans, and so’s the crest.
I admit to not being either a basketball or football fan at all, so I don’t have my finger on the pulse of how their fans feel about this situation. I would expect, though, baseball fans to be akin to hockey fans when it comes to a situation like this, which is why we’ll never see corporate logos besmirching uniforms whose basic design might be 120 years old. It’s also why we shouldn’t see corporate logos on a Habs jersey any time soon, either. Tradition and age of the teams have a lot to do with this situation.
So does the understanding of the owners. Sure, hockey owners aren’t exactly tops of anyone’s list right at this moment, but one would hope that they’d have the common sense to not agree to what the NBA has agreed to: logos on their game jerseys. Yep. In addition to in-game ads on the floor, TV commercials, and corporate sponsorships of every facet of the game and broadcast, you’ll also be treated to your favorite team having a sponsorship logo smack dab on their chest.
And if you’d like to purchase that team’s jersey? Why, the logo comes with it!
It’s inane. NASCAR, well, the sponsorships are almost necessary because of the high cost of the game. In soccer, the sponsorships on the jerseys happen because of the minimum of commercial breaks. European hockey leagues and international play have sponsors on their jerseys because the revenue isn’t there on par with the NHL. But for professional North American sports leagues to trot this idea out? It seems like a money grub, plain and simple.
Money’s great, but these leagues already take in a ton of cash. Surely there’s some room left for tradition and cleanliness of uniform? God willing the NHL will have the brains to stop this trend with the practice jerseys and leave it at that.