Friday, 24 September 2021

Desecrating The Uniform

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that this writer holds uniforms in a sacred spot when it comes to what appears on them. Team logos are always going to hold a place of prominence on the chest while patches on the shoulders in any spot shouldn't detract from the chest logo. Anything beyond that is unnecessary unless we're talking about a minor-league charity night or some one-off event. Europoean uniforms get lumped into their own category when it comes to the ads on them simply because the revenue generation for those teams is different than we see in the NHL, so you know that advertisements on NHL uniforms is a non-starter for me. Don't even bring it up in a positive manner - it's simply unacceptable.

As you likely know, the NHL's Board of Governors - excuse my sarcastic tone, but forever the protectors of the sanctity of the sport - voted to have advertising on NHL jerseys starting in 2022-23 in what amounts to a pathetic cash grab 32 times. To say I'm annoyed already that I'm writing this article would be accurate, but seeing the Washington Capitals announce a multi-year deal for their jersey advertisement this morning only lit an angry fire in me that is still burning now.

Without further delay, here's Washington's advertisement.
Holy moly does that look brutal. Not only is it in one of the patch spots where teams sport various patches, but it occupies a large chunk of real estate on the jersey going east-west. As for the company promoted on the jersey, it's a sportsbook ad which drives me nuts because the NHL is supposed to be for everyone. That line would include both kids and recovering gambling addicts, but who really cares as long as the NHL is getting its money, right?

What makes this worse is what ESPN's Greg Wyshynski reported earlier today. He wrote,
"NHL teams were restricted to one ad on their jerseys, to go along with one on the helmet, which is a program that began in the 2019-20 season. While teams were prohibited from selling sportsbook ads during the first two seasons of the helmet sponsorship program, the NHL said that gambling ads would be allowed on helmets and jerseys beginning in the 2022-23 season.

"The Capitals' partnership with Caesars falls within the NHL's regulation guidelines for gambling ads on jerseys. The ads can only be sold in markets where single-game sports betting is legal, and cannot appear on away uniforms.

"'We don't want that jersey going to away markets where it's not legal,' Keith Wachtel, the NHL's chief business officer and senior executive vice president, told ESPN last month."
Essentially, based on Greg's reporting, the Capitals could have a Caesar's Sportsbook ad on their home jerseys, and sell the same space on their road jerseys to some other company so they can maximize as much potential revenue from the jersey ads as possible. In theory, Washington could generate more money annually from jersey revenue than teams who are legally not permitted to advertise gambling in those states or provinces.

Is that fair? I suppose it is. Is that gross in terms of what the Capitals can do when it comes to maximizing revenue? Entirely.

This is why I am against advertising on jerseys: the rules differ from state to state and province to province which will ultimately allow some teams to capitalize more than other while other teams are penalized through no fault of their own. If we're talking about "have" and "have-not" teams, this only opens the gaps a little wider.

Beyond that, the ads are entirely intrusive, quite distracting to the eye, and extremely tacky from an aesthetics point of view when one is looking at the uniforms. There is no way that the NHL should have agreed to this, but the colour of money is officially the only colour that matters when it comes to traditions in the NHL. If the ads were on the edge of the shoulder yoke area, I might be able to stomach them on an NHL jersey, but having them located on the shoulder where they are creeping into chest logos is grotesque. While my complaints won't make them go away, my interest in owning game-worn jerseys just fell off the table.

The reality is that we need to forget the blue-and-white, the bleu-blanc-et-rouge, or the yellow-and-black because green is the only colour that shamefully seems to matter to NHL teams.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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