There have been a lot of ongoing discussions in the past few years about NBA owners selling advertising space, much like European basketball teams, soccer teams and WNBA teams do now. However, none of those talks have ever really materialized into anything.
The Charlotte Bobcats have now come closer than any NBA team has, though. This week they agreed to a new partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, per Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal. Part of the deal between the two parties includes having the Blue Cross and Blue Shield logo on the Bobcats’ practice jerseys that will be worn in training camp. The partnership will last until the end of training camp in 2014.
Selling ad-space on practice jerseys is fine. It’s a uniform that isn’t seen often, but is seen enough to justify a company paying for the space. However, it also doesn’t put into the question the integrity of traditional NBA jerseys and the uniqueness that each team’s jersey provides.
However, the bigger worry has to be that this partnership opens some sort of advertising Pandora’s box in the league. What if this is just the first step to the Bobcats having a big McDonald’s logo draped across their chest in the regular season? That would not be okay.
Not only does it take away the uniqueness of NBA jerseys as they are, but it would also probably hurt sales for team’s jerseys. Sure, soccer teams are able to sell jerseys that feature ads on them, but that’s because the leagues’ fans are accustomed to it. NBA fans are not. NBA fans want their jersey to have their team name, a number, and a player’s name, nothing more, nothing less.
As of right now, this seems contained to just the Bobcats having an insurance company logo on their practice jerseys. I support that as a way to grab extra revenue for the organization. Anything beyond that, though, and I, probably along with a lot of other people, will have an issue.
Charlotte Bobcats 2013 Coach Profile: Steve Clifford
Charlotte Bobcats Rumors: James Southerland Invited to Training Camp, Likely Won’t Make Roster
Charlotte Bobcats 2013 Player Profile: Bismack Biyombo