On Saturday, the day after NBA owners voted to go ahead with uni ads for the 2017-18 season, Uni Watch reader Mike Wissman sent the league an email criticizing their decision. Yesterday he received a form letter from a “Fan Relations” representative, as follows:
Thanks for contacting us regarding NBA jersey sponsorships.
The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program. The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys and measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.
We believe that jersey sponsorships will more deeply engage our partners without negatively impacting the competition on the court, and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways. We appreciate that many fans have a deep admiration for the NBA’s traditions and a strong connection with our uniforms.
We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial.
Thanks again for writing us. We appreciate your sharing your views.
Okay, so it’s your basic soulless corporate form letter. The one interesting thing about it is the incessant repetition of the word “sponsorship(s),” which appears four times in the first thee paragraphs.
This is not a new trope for the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver, for example, has repeatedly referred to Kia, which had an ad patch on this year’s NBA All-Star jerseys, as a “sponsor.” And of course the use of “sponsor” in the sports world is not limited to the NBA. People who follow soccer often refer to “jersey sponsors” or “kit sponsors”; companies that buy the naming rights to a sports venue are sometimes called “stadium sponsors” or “arena sponsors” or “naming sponsors”; companies are also referred to as “sponsoring” a certain part of a stadium; and so on. (Continue reading)