Always one to capitalize on the social media presence of their players– unlike their peers– the NBA has unveiled a series of t-shirts branded with the Twitter handles of some of the league’s most popular players who are heavy Twitter users.
The shirts are available on the NBA’s primary website, NBAStore.com, which feature a hashtag with the team’s logo on one side, and the player’s Twitter handle above their number on the other side.
The NBA isn’t the first league to venture into Twitter merchandise territory. Teams in Major League Lacrosse have also tried to increase their overall social media presence, and the presence of their players, by using Twitter handles on jerseys, with the Philadelphia Wings taking the lead.
It’s a solid strategy for the NBA, a league that is always looking to engage its fans with its most popular players.
Social media is an absolute necessity for any professional sports league to succeed on a large-scale and turn passive fans into the rabid fans that will fill arenas even on off-nights. The NBA has managed to do just this, in spite of a labor battle which threatened to derail the 2012 season, and ended up shortening it by 13 games on the regular season slate.
Will other leagues follow the NBA’s lead and sell their own Twitter-branded jerseys? Sure, it’s a possibility, but don’t look for the NFL to be the next to jump on the bandwagon given Roger Goodell’s distaste for the medium and the extra distractions it brings to his attempts to “clean up” the image of a league that constantly struggles with how it is portrayed in the media.
Major League Baseball, however, could be a possible adopter. After all, they need all the marketing help they can get to stay relevant and in touch with young fans who don’t get the nuances of the game the way their parents’ generation did.