The NHL will occasionally surprise us by doing something responsible and well-meaning, like the “We Can Play” initiative, designed to encourage inclusion and diversity at lower levels of hockey.
Ads on jerseys.
Apparently this was agreed to at the most recent board of governors’ meeting. Unanimously.
For now, it’s starting small – a single patch at 3 inches by 3-1/2 inches in size. This is larger than the NBA recently began allowing, but obviously smaller than some leagues. The fear is that once you give 3.5 inches, the floodgates are open, and the ads get bigger and bigger until they begin to obscure the information one wants to see on a jersey – team name, logo, city, player name & number. (I’m looking at you, “Fly Emirates” sports club in whatever sport and whatever city that is.)
This is actually not the first foothold of advertisements on NHL uniforms. In the 2020-2021 season, the NHL sold advertisements on the team helmets, and reportedly pulling in >$100m of revenue. They claimed at the time that it was to offset revenue loss for ticket sales lost due to COVID, but there are no plans to remove those ads now that teams are opening their stadiums again.
Certainly, the AHL, ECHL and NHWL have all given in to the need to add revenue by allowing advertisements on their uniforms, but some are more aggressive than others. For now the North American minor league teams seem to have constrained the ad space to one or two ads per uniform – perhaps one on a helmet and one on a shoulder or chest. Barely noticable on broadcast, and not part of the gear sold to fans. European leagues are not so discrete. The Swedish league in particular, is notoriously liberal about selling ad space.
Nu har det blivit dags att lära känna @LHChockey:s Max Lindroth lite bättre med hjälp av 20 frågor🤝 Han berättar bland annat om sitt favoritgodis och en glömd hockeytrunk.https://t.co/YDsv7LMcnq #SHL pic.twitter.com/eEsybvfKl7
— SHL.se (@SHLse) August 13, 2021
Hopefully things don’t get that ridiculous around these parts. Either way, we get another year of reprieve – this decision does not go into effect until the 2022-2023 season.