California State University East Bay

Ads on my hockey sweater?

November 20, 2014

Flickr | Red Touch Media

Flickr | Red Touch Media

I do not know one person who wishes that the 82-year-old design of the Detroit Red Wings jersey looked more like Jeff Gordon’s racing suit.

It’s bad enough that the boards at a National Hockey League games are covered in logos from tech companies and Tim Horton’s Cafe & Bake Shop, an idea that outraged hockey purists in 1980.

There are now even painted advertisements ON the ice in the neutral zone of every NHL rink.

Over time, we’ve learned to ignore those when watching a game — I can’t tell you the last advertisement I noticed on a rink that wasn’t one I was actively looking for.

The one thing that we have managed to avoid is a Geico gecko on the game sweaters. NHL COO John Collins was quoted saying “a sponsorship is coming and happening” to jerseys. Whether this was specific to the NHL or not, he is thinking about it.
Really? The one product that NHL fans will gladly purchase?

It represents our team, our city, our favorite player, and a kid’s dream to grow up just like them.

The NHL has since attempted to backpedal from that statement. Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Canadian Press, “It’s not something that we’re focused on right now because, frankly, I think we’ve got the best uniforms in all of sports. I think this is one of those where we’re never going to be an initiator,” said Bettman.

“We may get dragged kicking and screaming, but it’s not something that’s a front-burner for us.”

This could put you at ease, or you could think harder about what he’s saying. Bettman acts like they do not have a choice here.

Sorry, but according to Forbes, the average NHL team is worth $413 million.

I think that’s quite enough to say that owners are not struggling to keep their team afloat, even you, Florida Panthers, who have no choice but to let Ronald McDonald make his new home on the front of their team’s jersey.

No matter what the NHL says about how long it will take for them to move into this phase of ad placement, what they are doing right now is testing the waters. NHL fans, myself included, have far more tools available to voice our opinions with than we did 35 years ago.

We should be using them to make sure that if they do carry out game sweater advertising, they know that their jersey sales will tank.

I realize that this greed-driven proposition can easily replace merchandise revenue with advertisers paying the NHL more than we could possible spend on jerseys, but I guess that is a choice that the league needs to make; grow their wallet, or grow the game that they say they love so much.

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