Are ads on NBA jerseys next?

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You’re watching the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs this weekend, take a good look at the players’ jerseys.

You’ll see the standard features: names of the teams, numbers and names of the players.

Make a mental picture of what you’re looking at. Because there’s a chance the old-style jerseys may become just a memory.

As Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reported, NBA owners at a meeting in New York this month were presented with a display of six mannequin torsos. Three of the mannequins wore Chicago Bulls jerseys. Three wore Boston Celtics jerseys.

But the jerseys had been intentionally altered, for the owners’ consideration. They were festooned with advertising. The prominence of the on-jersey ads varied: One version did away with the team name and replaced it with the name of a corporate advertiser; a second version featured the advertiser’s name beneath the player’s number; a third put the advertiser’s logo on a strap of the jersey.

The NBA has not decided whether it will begin the move to jerseys bearing ads. None of the four major North American sports leagues — the NBA, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League — permits advertising on team uniforms.

But other professional sports — auto racing, golf and soccer — let athletes display ads on their clothing. And when Sandomir asked Adam Silver, deputy commissioner of the NBA, about the league’s position on instituting jerseys with ads, Silver said: “If we add sponsor logos to jerseys, we recognize that some of our fans will think we’ve lost our minds. But the NBA is a global business and logos on jerseys are well-established in other sports and commonplace outside the U.S.”

If and when it happens — if the NBA becomes the first major American sports league to turn uniforms into advertising billboards — the surprising thing may turn out to be how quickly the public, after expressing initial consternation, decides that it’s no big deal.

Advertising once was seen as having the potential to be an unwelcome intrusion of hucksterism into places where hucksterism did not belong. But if there was a line that was not supposed to be crossed, that line was obliterated long ago. Not only is advertising ubiquitous and largely unquestioned today, it has managed to become a sought-after symbol of something’s — or someone’s — worth.

Courtesy Of CNN.COM

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