Advertising in Sports is Getting Out of Control

NBA ads on jerseysIt seems like you cannot watch a professional sporting event these days without being bombarded by advertisements. A NFL coach challenges a play and we see an ad for the Coors Light Freeze Frame. The 15th out of a baseball game is recorded and you are reminded that GEICO can save you 15 percent on car insurance. We watch, what we think is a slam dunk contest, but when Blake Griffin jumps over car, we are really just seeing a cleverly disguised ad for Kia. It’s already out of control— and it’s about to get worse….

The NBA recently announced they would begin to allow advertisements on jerseys beginning in the 2013-14 season. The NBA Board of Governors approved the use of 2” x 2” patches, which they estimate will generate an additional $100 million dollars in revenue.

This is probably just the beginning. All it takes is for one major sports organization to do this. It’s only a matter of time before other major professional sports follow suit. Though Bud Selig, the commissioner of MLB, has already gone on record in saying he wouldn’t allow that. But he’s retiring soon and how do we know the next commissioner will feel the same way?

Most professional soccer leagues already have ads on their shirts but at least they have a bit of an excuse. Since the clock doesn’t stop in soccer, there is little time for commercials, so there is less ad revenue to go around. That being said, it still looks completely ridiculous. I would never buy a jersey that said Samsung or Herbalife on the front.

The four major sports have plenty of allotted time for commercial breaks. The NFL goes to commercial after every score and again two minutes later after kickoff. The NBA has TV timeouts at least twice in every quarter (in addition to all the timeouts that are called in the final two minutes). Major League Baseball has two minutes and 30 seconds in between every half inning when it shouldn’t take more than a minute to get the two teams on and off the field and have the pitcher throw five warm-up pitches. This turns what should be a 2:30 game into a three-plus hour game—four hours if it’s Yankees/ Red Sox.

We should not have to be subjected to so much advertising during a professional sporting event. We’re already paying to watch the game. You may not realize it but we are. We are paying the cable companies, who pay these networks for the right to broadcast the channel. We already have to endure a ton of commercials as well as in-game ads. Can we at least draw the line with jerseys?

My wife Mrs. Sacks knows I can’t stand being forced to sit through advertisements when I’ve already paid money for something. I always complain to her when we’re at the movies about having to sit through 20 minutes of coming attractions before the movie starts. I’ve already paid 12 bucks to get in, why must I be subjected to previews for the annual bad Adam Sandler movie or yet another romantic comedy featuring Katherine Heigl?

We should only have to listen or watch ads when we receive a service we haven’t paid for. So basically, in my opinion, only the Internet and radio should be allowed to advertise.

We go to a game, pay $50 dollars for nosebleed seats, $20 dollars for parking and $9 dollars for light beer in a plastic cup, and yet every corner of the stadium or arena is covered in ads. Even the name of the stadium is an advertisement. When does it end? Names like Yankee Stadium or Soldier Field bring out a sense of history just by uttering their names. Does anyone feel that same sense of awe when they walk into O.Co Coliseum or Quiken Loans Arena?

And why do we have to be subjected to all this advertising? So these owners can give out five million dollar contracts to mediocre relief pitchers. So Albert Pujols can make more money than the GDP of some small African nations and still not run hard down the first base line. So Carmelo Anthony can get paid 20 million dollars a year to lose in the first round every season.

I know that professional sports are big business and advertisements are a necessary to generate sufficient revenue. I’m willing to tolerate ads to a certain extent. But ads on jerseys are where it needs to stop. Unfortunately, I’ll probably learn to tolerate this too because, let’s be honest, I’m not going to stop watching sports.

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2 comments for “Advertising in Sports is Getting Out of Control

  1. Paddy Français
    July 26, 2012 at 6:10 am

    First time contributor.

    Spot-on article (as usual) and I can’t but agree that this would be the wrong road for American professional sport to go down; then again, is not the U.S. the ultimate Mecca for sporting capitalism? A lot of you over there (along with your neighbours to the frozen north) seem to view sports teams as mere ”franchises”, meaning that a team from X city can just up and leave to go somewhere else for more dough (especially if an asshole owner has a sense of entitlement that isn’t being sufficiently massaged); that strikes a European as a pretty revolting concept. Not happy in Brooklyn? No matter, off we go to Los Angeles to become the newfangled L.A. Dodgers! However crap my hometown team is (and it’s pretty damn bad), it’s my team and whether it’s in the top Division or the very lowest, I’m going to support it. If Manchester United suddenly decided to go London to become London United, they’d have no more fans, save the simpering glory hunters, and rightly so.

    Watching baseball and American football (I’m a fan) is made just about tolerable on European TV due to the fact that whenever your broadcasters go to their billions of commercial breaks, our TV goes back to the guys in the studio to analyze what has gone on thus far. I tried watching a football game on American TV once; never again, the amount of bloody ads made my eyes explode with rage. Sadly, I don’t think there’s any way to stop this rancid commercialism going forward, it’s what modern (American) sport has become (and has steadily infected our sporting mindset over here, as the blight of ever larger advertisements on soccer jerseys show).

    After this, the next stop will probably be ”This Foul call, brought to you by Snickers!”. Some advertisement has to be tolerated for revenue purposes, I doubt any sane person would disagree, I just hope we over here in Europe don’t continue to incessantly copy the trend across the pond, as we are ever so wont to do.

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