Billboards On Skates? Not A Fan

Eli Manning, the Super Bowl winning quarterback for the New York Giants, has a bit of a dilemma. See, the team he plays for…the one that pays his salary… went and sold ad space on their practice jerseys to Timex. Problem is… Eli endorses Citizen watches.

So what’s Manning going to do about this situation? Well, according to Darren Rovell of CNBC

“Manning’s jersey has the patch on it and news crews might be able to film the small patch – 3½ inches by 4½ inches – from afar, but for this practice and all future practices, Manning is not expected to give Timex much love due to his conflict of interest. We’re told Manning will do interviews before practice in a t-shirt and will take off his pads for any interviews after practice”.

Well…I guess that takes care of that, huh?

Now, what does any of this have to do with the Thrashers and/or the NHL? Well, I’m glad you asked me that my friend.

Reading this story reminded me of a particular topic that has circled around the hockey world for some time now. It’s the one about possibly granting corporate sponsors the ability to place their logos on NHL team jerseys. If this is allowed, it would help generate more revenue for the teams and the league. It would also, in my opinion, simply pollute some of the greatest jerseys in professional sports.

Certainly, this isn’t a new idea as European hockey and soccer leagues allow such advertisement on the uniforms of their teams. Depending on the sport and the league, you could see jerseys with a single, large logo of a sponsor on the front of the uniform…or a smattering of smaller logos scattered all over it.

Needless to say…I’m not a fan of the idea.

(AP modified photo)

Don't we get enough of this alongside our interstate highways? (AP modified photo)

Obviously, corporate sponsorships are a necessary aspect of professional sports and the placement of product ads can be found all over the place. From the naming of arenas and stadiums…to ads on the boards and hanging from inside of them…to the word “official” stamped on everything from the teams airline to jock-itch powder…franchises in each league generate a lot of dough by selling space for advertisement. And certainly these ads help bring enough money for the teams and offset ticket prices and run the business end of the organization. So I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a place for logos, ads and sponsorships.

TV…fine.

Radio…no problem.

Billboards along I-75…blocks the natural scenary, but OK.

Internet sites…hey, it keeps the surfing the net free of charge, right?

Like I said, advertisement is fine in it’s place. But what I am asking…hoping… is that such a place not be located on the jerseys. That’s all. The last thing in the world I want to see is the ice surface at Philips Arena looking more like a mini NASCAR track than an NHL hockey game.

I was in a sports store the other day looking at soccer…I mean, football… jerseys from teams in England and Germany. there isn’t a one of them that isn’t displaying some type of corporate logo on the front of the jersey. I couldn’t help but wonder if the fans that bought and wore the shirts were supporting, say, Manchester United or AIG…just sayin’.

That plus the Manning story kinda got me thinking about how a Thrashers uni would look with…oh, I don’t know…a big Coca-Cola or Home Depot or Delta or maybe even UPS logo plastered on the front as the team’s crest. Then, of course, the Thrashers logo would be relegated to a small patch on the shoulder.

In a word…yeck!

See…I like Home Depot, dropped many-a-coin there since becoming a homeowner. I fly Delta whenever I travel…never had a problem with the airline. I enjoy the occasional Coca-Cola and I use UPS whenever I need to send a package.

Again…I like those companies.

But I am a fanatic of the Atlanta Thrashers. And that’s the logo I want to see on the front when watching them play. And when I buy a new jersey, I want the logo of my team to be on display, not necessarily some product or service that I may or may not use…or may or may not even like.

Besides, I think it’d just look tacky as hell…but that’s just me.

Now, I honestly don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that we’ll soon see the day when a small logo could be added to NHL jerseys for a corporate sponsor…much like the Kroger patch on those worn by the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. I suppose it’s inevitable…where there is a dollar to be made, a dollar will indeed be made…whether I, or anyone else for that matter, like it or not.

I hope it doesn’t, but if and when such a day should ever come, I hope the league officials will temper their enthusiasm and desire for the extra money that could be generated by advertisement with the wisdom and foresight of not allowing the sport to degenerate into nothing more than “Ads on Ice and turn the players into ”Billboards on Skates”.

216 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

August 8th, 2009
11:46 am

Brendan, when I was in high school, I got into an argument at a Flyers-Sabres game in Buffalo game with “adult” Flyers fans. They were just passionate fans. The game ended in a 6-6 tie, very exciting game. What I remember most from that game was a guy sitting next to me in his 3 piece business suit. He was so drunk he slept sitting up until there were 2 minutes remaining in the game!
Been to Flyers games in the Spectrum-too scary did not wear a Sabres jersey! Got snowed into Boston and went to a Bruins-Habs game. 6,000 people showed up in flannel shirts, drinking beer the entire game. Montréal Canadian fans are absolutely brutal to ANY fan that wears an opposing jersey, even to women. So there’s all sorts out there for sure.
Overpaying players-the problem with overpaying players today is the impact on the salary cap. This is the issue with Brian Campbell. Not that “Soupy” is a bad player, he just restricts the Hawk’s ability to keep their team together. From my experience, I think it is worse to lose a player than overpaying him.
Kovy means so much to this franchise. I think losing him would be far worse than overpaying him. This is not to say anyone will pay him $11M, but I think he means too much to us. The way he played after being promoted to captain, I think he is worth it. None of us would be optimistic about the future if the team had not played so well in the 2nd half of last season. Kovy and Anderson deserve most of the credit for the improvement.
Let’s use Drury/Briere as familiar counter examples. Both players were overpaid when they left Buffalo as free agents, we all agree on this fact. But where has Buffalo been since they left as free agents? Nowhere near the conference finals or even in the playoffs. They were to go-to guys in Buffalo, especially when the games were close. You can make the same argument about Marc Savard here or Zedeno Chara in Ottawa. There are key players that drive franchises that must be identified by management and locked up for the future. Drury, Briere, Savard and Chara were all keys for their former clubs.
You made another point about taking the $11M and investing the $$$ on other players that may bring back similar value in goals. I think if you lose Kovy you will have a tougher time getting players to come here, regardless of the money. We already have a tough time drawing Tier 1 talent with Kovy in out lineup. Players are smart enough to perceive good clubs (ones with a chance of winning) from bad clubs. We need to develop the good club reputation before Atlanta is considered a prime destination for free agents.
The Atlanta Braves are a classic example of a team that went from average status to a preferred destination for UFAs and then back again. Now they have fallen back to average, making it harder to get UFAs. D. Lowe is a prime example; they had to overpay him to get him to come to Atlanta. Lowe wasn’t on the Braves’ radar until after other UFAs crossed Atlanta off their lists.
Keep Kovy, develop a winning reputation and continue to build around him through the draft and strategic free agent signings.

World Be Free

August 8th, 2009
11:46 am

Help me Trixie

Jameson

August 8th, 2009
12:04 pm

Well, I suppose if Kovy winds up walking, we could always get Coke to be the main jersey sponsor and change the team name to the Atlanta Zeros.

Brendan

August 8th, 2009
4:52 pm

WBF, that was a nice post. Good perspective. See, I love this about our blog. No yelling and screaming. Just people talkin’ about hockey, and speculation. Ya know, the hallmarks of a good blog.

The Earl of Bud

August 8th, 2009
5:40 pm

WBF I have to agree as well, but that shouldn’t surprise. But I do have to say, Ottawa did go to the Stanley Cup Finals after giving up Zdeno Chara. Now as for giving up other defensemen Joe Corvo, Wade Redden, Anton Volchenkov, Andrej Meszaros, even Tom Preissing, all from that Cup finals team, well now you know why they didn’t go to the playoffs last year.

World Be Free

August 8th, 2009
8:16 pm

Thanks Brendan and I agree about keeping things civil.
EOB-I think letting Chara go was the beginning of the slide in Ottawa. Like the Sabres, Ottawa had no plan of how to drive their future, which is why they are where they are today.

I cannot wait for the season to start-enough baseball!

The Earl of Bud

August 8th, 2009
9:38 pm

WBF, we are just going to disagree on this one. I admit letting Chara go is tough, but again they did go to the Stanley Cup Finals without him. Their slide came from losing 5 of their top 6 defensemen from that Cup Finals team. Corvo, Redden, Volchenkov, Meszaros and Pressing. Losing all of them is why they suck now, not because they lost Chara who they won without.

The Earl of Bud

August 8th, 2009
9:52 pm

Brendan, I also liked your comments about keeping things civil. I have received some name calling and I didn’t care for it. What was odd is I never addressed the guy in a post when he started bickering. Maybe since Tiller started a new blog the 3 of us can keep this conversation going without worrying about it getting unruly. Then for other stuff we can keep posting on the current one.

While I have you two here, you have to watch replays or clips of the HOF ceremony tonight. Buffalo fans dominated that thing. I know they had two candidates, but they showed up in full force.

Brendan

August 9th, 2009
6:47 am

That doesn’t surprise me, I’m convinced that Buffalo fans are very passionate. Imagine if Golisano would grab a live microphone, before a packed house, and proclaim, “I promise to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to win a Stanley Cup right here in Buffalo,” like Rutherford Seydell did on “Opening Night,” in 2007, at Philips Arena, vs. the Capitals.

World Be Free

August 9th, 2009
7:59 am

Brendan, I remember when Bills’ fans hated Ralph Wislon I went to a ceremony at Rich Stadium in the early 80’s when Wilson was booed off the filed. So Buffalo fans can be low class too.

it’s only when Wilson commited to winning did Bills’ fans start to cheer him, now they love him for what he has done for 50 years.

The Earl of Bud

August 9th, 2009
3:20 pm

WBF remember they sucked for a good chunk of the 70’s and the early 80’s had those 2-14 seasons which is why they had the chance to get Bruce Smith #1 overall. But like your comment earlier, they went from doghouse to being a premier destination back to doghouse this last decade. They can still get big names a la T.O. but they need to get to the playoffs badly this year.

Brendan, Wilson I can hear saying that but never Golisano. Both of these teams can be sold any day due to Wilson’s age and Golisano’s not being a real hockey guy to begin with. I doubt he would sell now though because the value is still rising and selling a year too soon would be a huge mistake.

Brendan

August 9th, 2009
10:41 pm

I hope Golisano holds on to the Sabres. With 41 sellouts a year, he shouldn’t be hurting, financially, over this particular asset. I saw that he gave to Rochester, NY-based schools, mightily. And he funded some Science Center for Niagara University, for a hefty chunk, as well. Hopefully, that Niagara Hockey team will see some of that money. I forgot how much, exactly, Golisano gave, but I remember it seemed excessive. Why not put that money into the Sabres?

The Earl of Bud

August 10th, 2009
10:02 am

Brendan, the Niagara Hockey team won’t see a dime of that $10 mil. I have an extremely far-fetched conspiracy theory that I don’t even want to share because it is worse than doubting the moon landing, but the Niagara hockey program is going to tank. Ok I’ll say it, I wonder if Golisano’s $10 mil had anything to do with the University’s executive decisions to pull back on the hockey program. After all, if they would’ve grown as they have been and were planned to, it would’ve competed against those 41 sellouts. I’m sure you don’t know much about Niagara U. but the administration killed what could have been a jewel.

Brendan

August 10th, 2009
11:29 am

That’s a shame, then, for the Purple Eagles Hockey program, moving forward. I see them every so often in the NCAA Tournament. They seemed to be moving in the right direction.

The Earl of Bud

August 10th, 2009
1:16 pm

Yeah, every player who spent all 4 years there has been to the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately that is going to come to an end as the University does not want to compete and opted to lose scholarships and go into a lower conference and not expand the arena as originally planned.

World Be Free

August 10th, 2009
9:13 pm

That arena the Purple Eagles play in is real nice. I went to a couple junior games there 2 years ago.

Golisano and Ralph Wilson-not in the same league. Ralph was a trail blazer as an owner, Golisano is just along for the ride.