Within the next five years, LeBron James, Francisco Lindor and Browns quarterback X should be covered in logos, as should every professional athlete in American sports. Every inch of free space on an NBA, MLB or NFL jersey is money lost.
Leagues and teams have already ruined the legitimacy of jerseys with alternates and throwbacks and one-offs. That's all done to get you, the consumer, to buy more versions of your favorite team's attire.
So no one should object to any move aimed at making money that doesn't reach into the pockets of fans. In an ideal world, every penny made off jersey sponsorships should lead to a penny off the price of tickets. Every dollar made off jersey sponsorships should lead to a dollar less extracted from taxpayers for a new arena or stadium renovations or anything else a professional franchise wants the public to pay for.
Logos on uniforms should serve as a constant reminder that money is made on every dribble, tackle and grounder. There's some public good, but it's a private enterprise. Make your money, team, then pay for stuff yourself.
So bring on the ads -- on uniforms, on playing fields and courts, on bases, on backboards and in endzones. If you can see it, then it should be for sale.
There's a point of diminishing returns, of course. Every added logo lessens the exclusivity of each sponsorship deal. But if it's good enough for NASCAR, and that's the example everyone uses, it should be good enough for every other sport.
Let the athletes have their own endorsements. But if you want to play for a team, you deal with their uniforms as well.
These are league decisions, not team decisions, but this is what's coming, so get used to it. As Peter King wrote when the NBA announced the plan for these small uniform patches, the NFL will head this way as well. The NFL has been selling small logos on training camp jerseys for years, and soon enough, that will migrate to the regular season.
When the Browns changed their uniforms for the 2016 season, they used seven of the nine possible jersey and pants combinations. That's a lot of look. For a fanbase that has been through the "orange is oranger," how could anything about a Browns jersey bother you?
The Cavs feature a jersey schedule on their website so you can figure out what the champs look like night to night. There were eight different jerseys over the course of this season and six different base colors, from white to wine to orange to bright yellow.
Logos on the jerseys might be comforting -- at least they won't change as the uniforms do.
"Which team are we? Oh, wait, that's that Goodyear wingfoot, that's us."
This isn't a complaint about changing jerseys. They're great. They're cool. They're colorful. They're profitable. If you think any part of this is sarcastic, it's not. Sell, sell, sell. Because it has been revealed that the look of your favorite team is far from sacrosanct.
So do anything to those unis for a buck. Literally anything. It's just laundry.
Then let's have that trickle down to college as fast as possible. The scarlet and gray of Ohio State wore black uniforms against Penn State in 2015. Ohio State wears an alternate uniform at least once each year, typically against Michigan, so that the Buckeyes don't look like themselves during their most important games.
Here's your solution to paying athletes on the college level.
Sell a uniform sponsorship for each athletic team. Football will bring a higher price than soccer. Some teams may not make much money at all. But let that be your pool for paying your players. The football team splits the money from the football jersey logos. The wrestling team splits the money from the advertising on their singlets.
So a hardy welcome to Goodyear and the beginning of Cleveland's jersey sellout revolution. If we can see it, the teams should sell it.
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