If the folks who founded the National Football League had a chance to go back to 1920 and do it all over again, they surely would do one thing differently: Sell ad space on the uniforms.
If the NFL had grown and ultimately come of age with advertisements on the uniforms, no one would care about it as of 2016 — and the NFL would be making tens of millions more per year. From the true rise of the sport in the 1970s through today, the total ad revenue would be well into the billions by now.
Even more surely, the NFL would love to find a way to pull that off now. Already a fixture on practice jerseys and subtly present during games via the logo of the jersey manufacturer (and, as the photo accompanying this article reveals, prevalent on the NFL Europe uniforms), some owners undoubtedly are pushing behind closed doors for the largely Teflon sports league to grit its teeth and endure the short-term slings and arrows of selling jersey ad space to the highest bidder.
In this regard, the NBA has decided to do the NFL (and itself) a favor by announcing on Friday a three-year “pilot program” (i.e., “if it blows up in our faces we can walk back from it with a little less embarrassment”) that allows teams as of 2017-18 to sell 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch squares. Via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the program is expected to generate $100 million per year.
Fans undoubtedly will huff and puff, but will anyone truly blown down ratings or attendance figures simply because the logos and images that already infiltrate virtually every aspect of American life have slipped onto the uniform of a pro sports team? It’s doubtful that anything will change by way of revenue or ratings, which will serve only to result in more NFL owners pushing for advertisements on uniforms.
Until then, here’s a chance to let the owners take the temperature of the fans through an unscientific poll regarding the issue. Feel free to add some unprofane comments below as well.