Advertising in Professional Sports


Ads are everywhere. You can’t drive down the freeway, open Facebook, or watch TV without being bombarded with advertisements. One place that has been left untouched is the uniforms of professional athletes. Players in the MLB, NHL, NFL, and NBA are not allowed to have logos of sponsors on their jerseys. Students in our Professional Sports Administration course were asked for their thoughts on where teams should not be allowed to place corporate logos. Check out a few of their thoughts below.

By: Kelly Reigler

For professional sports teams it is essential to find the balance between bringing in enough sponsorship revenue and retaining the integrity of the game. Larger professional sports leagues in the united states limit sponsorship sales to places such as inside the stadium, on digital and print media, and giveaways where uniforms are untouched by sponsorship dollars (disregarding the apparel sponsor). In contrast, NASCAR and the MLS are able to sell sponsorships on uniforms, cars, and other places left free of sponsors in other leagues such as the MLB and NHL.

Personally, I believe that integrity of the game should be maintained but that there are new avenues that can be explored as far as sponsorship activations are concerned. In the MLS, for example, their kits are sponsored by one corporation; i.e. the Portland Timbers’ kits are sponsored by Alaskan Airlines. I do not believe that this type of sponsorship takes away from the integrity of the game, but it should be limited to a non-ostentatious single sponsor which still provides brand conscientious uniforms.

That being said, MLB teams should be able to sell a reasonable amount of sponsorship real estate in regards to batting practice jerseys, outfield grass, and game bases. It is imperative to find the balance between maximizing revenue and understanding that team identity is important in the sports industry. Overall, sponsorship opportunities should be more open, with limitations placed on size, integrity, and location to retain team identity.

By: Zaid Beeai

Sponsorship of various kinds is becoming more and more common place in modern day professional sports. From logos on jerseys, to banners in stadiums, all the way to entire stadiums being named after a company. I believe that sponsorship and corporate logos aren’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they are managed and kept at a certain minimum relative to a professional leagues personal standards/rules. Logo placement on jerseys isn’t a big deal as long as it doesn’t take up the entire jersey. I feel the same way about sponsorship placement in stadiums and on equipment. If the sponsorship banners, logos, signs are not taking up an obscene amount of room than I don’t see it being an issue, especially in baseball where the field is quite large. If you had a couple logos in the outfield and small logos on the top of a helmet than I don’t see that being an issue. Professional sports leagues like the MLB just have to make sure to keep their sponsorship/logo rules in check. You can’t have it getting to the point where Pepsi has a massive logo taking up all of center field or the sprint logo sticking out on an MLB player’s jersey when he is up to bat. I believe that would be crossing the line and would be risking taking away from the integrity of America’s greatest pastime.

By: Michael Field

In the film Major League, manager Lou Brown expresses early frustration as the team enters the field at their spring training complex to find the outfield wall spackled in advertisements. It becomes a running gag during Harry Doyle’s play-by-play in the next scene, as the move is considered to be reserved for the minors. We’ve come a long way since that movie.

As sports continue to evolve, it’s becoming commonplace. This year, MLB is introducing the New Era logo on the side of caps. Next year, three NBA teams will include ads on jerseys. While advertisements are important and necessary, there needs to be a balance. I’d prefer to see ads on playing surfaces (NHL) than on uniforms. Most people point to pro soccer as a reference for ads that are prevalent and not tacky, but at some point there has to be a limit.

Think about stadium naming rights. Many teams are constantly reselling and changing the names of their buildings. While it has been quite profitable, it has ruined the noteworthiness of each unique arena and caused confusion for fans both in and out of town.

If an MLB teams looks to sell more ads, on-field, batting practice and bases are fine places to start – and I’d even throw in the netting behind home plate. However, the traditional looking uniforms in baseball are one of the best-kept traditions, and the MLB should look to preserve this as part of the game’s integrity.

By: Lynsday Butler

I tend to have traditional beliefs when it comes to selling sponsorship and displaying corporate logos. While I do believe that MLB teams could expand revenue by allowing corporate logos to be tastefully represented on the walls, or the bases, I agree with the traditional standards that corporate logos should not be placed on any type of jersey. When teams are wearing their uniform, whether it’s a batting practice jersey or the game jersey, they are representing their team and their city, and in my opinion there is no need for any other company or sponsor to be on there taking away from that. Not to mention, baseball is a respected game and every team wants to look classy. If there were multiple corporate logos on jerseys, that would stick out more than the team name and it would make the uniform look tacky.

It is important to consider potential options when trying to increase revenue. Factoring in new ideas such as selling sponsorship for corporate logos on stadium walls or small logos on bases could be very beneficial, but respecting the traditions and integrity of the game is just as important. This is why I would say no to any type of logo on team jerseys, because that completely goes against the standing tradition. Corporate logos work for NASCAR and other sports leagues, but I strongly believe that MLB should stick to their tradition and avoid placing any advertisements on team jerseys or equipment.


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