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In case you missed it last week, David Stern used the cover of the NBA playoffs to float a trial balloon about NBA teams wearing advertising patches on their uniforms. It should come as no surprise that Uni Watch will now endeavor to splatter that balloon all over the mountainside.
And really, that's a pretty easy task, because the most commonly heard arguments in favor of uniform advertising have more holes than Jason Giambi's swing:
1. "NASCAR drivers wear ad logos." Yup. And so do cyclists, boxers, bowlers, golfers, and tennis players, among others. And what else do those athletes have in common? They all compete in individual sports, not team sports, which is why comparing NASCAR to the NBA is a classic apples/oranges shell game. The whole point of a team uniform is that it transcends the individual: The players come and go, but if you're a Knicks fan, you keep rooting for whoever's wearing a Knicks uniform, even if they're a bunch a stiffs (just speaking hypothetically, of course). It's an unusually intense form of brand loyalty, one that shouldn't be cheapened and sullied by the imposition of other brands. If individual athletes want to festoon themselves with endorsement patches, good for them some of them actually need the sponsorship money to be able to compete. But the only logo that belongs on a team uni is the logo of the team itself.
2. "Yeah, but European sports teams wear ad patches." Yes, and the world is also full of countries where people eat dogs, set up prearranged marriages, sentence adulterers to death by stoning, and think cricket is high entertainment shall we take up those quaint customs too? Look, we should be proud not to have sold out our team uniforms like the Europeans have. If you really think Euro-designs like this one bolster the case for uniform advertising, be Uni Watch's guest you're making a better argument for an ad-free world than Uni Watch ever could.
3. "OK, but uniform ads will generate revenue." True enough, but that doesn't mean they're a good idea. Just because you can sell something doesn't mean you should sell it. You could probably generate plenty of revenue by dealing human growth hormone to athletes, peddling your first-born on the black market, or selling military secrets to Kim Jong Il, but you probably wouldn't do any of those things, right? And municipalities could probably balance their books if they changed their names to things like MasterCard Presents Los Angeles, but that's not going to happen either. Why? Because there are certain things that we, as a society, have said are not for sale. Space on your favorite team's jersey should be one of them.
4. "Look, it's inevitable, so just accept it join the rest of us in the modern world already." Inevitable? Uni Watch begs to differ. As we all learned from Major League Baseball's Spider-Man fiasco last year, sports execs will beat a hasty retreat from their greed-driven flimflammery if fan reaction is strong enough. So don't let these clowns get away with selling off our games' aesthetic integrity if the NBA tries to go ahead with this, raise a stink.