Starting pitcher Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox talks to the manager Terry Francona and catcher Jason Varitek during the MLB Opening Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
The NBA announced Friday they'll be placing small ads on uniforms starting in 2013. Should MLB go the same route?
There have been rumors for some time that the NBA has been considering adding advertising to players' uniforms; it's obvious the reason is revenue, because visible ads like that could generate many millions of dollars. Friday, there were reports that the NBA has, in fact, decided to go ahead with that idea:
The current proposal for jersey ads would be as a small patch on the shoulder, not exactly as obtrusive as a sponsor name across the chest, and could bring in up to $100 million in total. According to Silver, while guidelines would be in place for ads in the 2012-13 season, ads would not start appearing on jerseys until 2013-14.
Naturally, this raises questions about whether this might happen in other sports, particularly baseball. And that's why I'm writing about this, because this is Baseball Nation!
Commissioner Bud Selig was asked about this on a Chicago sports radio talk show Friday, and his words might reassure you (or not, depending on your stance on this topic):
"You learn never to say never, but you know, with us, uniforms are really important," Selig said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "They're history.
"You can close your eyes, and that Cub uniform, my goodness gracious, I can remember (that from) when I was 10 years old, and that's a long time ago. And there's the Yankee pinstripes, and the Red Sox and so on and so forth, so I've been pretty consistent on that."
I'm all for tradition, and Selig is right about the tradition in the Yankees and Red Sox uniforms, unchanged for decades. But as you can see in the photo attached to this post, the Red Sox wore a small ad on their sleeve when they played the Athletics in a season-opening series in Tokyo in 2008; other teams that have opened the regular season in Japan (the Mariners and A's this year, the Yankees and then-Devil Rays in 2004 and the Cubs and Mets in 2000) did the same. The ad in the photo is pretty unobtrusive.
Some might say that one ad would lead down a slippery slope and soon MLB uniforms would look like the auto racer suits that have dozens of ads plastered everywhere, but that could be avoided by rules on where ads could be placed, and whether there even could be more than one per jersey.
When queried recently on this subject by Rob Neyer, MLBPA head Michael Weiner noted that advertisements on uniforms are subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners, and that he didn't think the players would welcome a change.
So we're looking at three issues: tradition, money and the fact that this would have to be bargained between players and owners. It's not likely to happen any time soon. What say you on this issue? Vote in the poll.
What's your feeling about ads on MLB uniforms?
Sure! Why not? Unobtrusive, and more money for teams! (24 votes)
No! Never! I'm a traditionalist! (340 votes)
Meh. Don't care either way. (47 votes)
411 total votes