Chances are, any rabid soccer fan you know was tuned into the Champions League final earlier this spring when Samsung ultimately defeated Deutsche Telekom on penalty kicks.
Strike that: the teams on the field were England’s Chelsea and Germany’s Bayern Munich football clubs, but you could forgive a newbie who was misled by the giant corporate logos pasted across each team’s jersey.
Of course, the pre-eminence of corporate sponsors on jerseys is nothing new to European soccer, and it’s clearly not something that has had an impact on the sport’s booming popularity, but here in the US, the professional sports jersey has, so far, been more sacred ground, where additions to the official look have been of the championship-anniversary or dead-athlete-patch variety.
(And no, we’re not counting NASCAR).
However, when companies are thought to be ready to toss you $100 million for a season of jersey advertisements, it’s no surprise that sacred ground becomes a more relative term.
The National Basketball Association is reportedly ready to green-light the placement of a two-and-a-half by two-and-a-half inch patch on jerseys for the 2013-2014 season, giving companies an extra year to line up sponsors.
Deputy NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the blog that he thought every team in the league would do this “in some form,” noting that mass support has been years in coming. The $100 million in new annual revenue for each team would have a hand in offsetting the $58 million “soft” salary cap in payroll.
No word yet on whether American flags will be handed out to players with endorsement deals that clash with an official team sponsor.