News broke recently that the NBA was seriously considering festooning team jerseys with advertisements, just like Major League Soccer, NASCAR and many other sports. What's next?
It wouldn't be a surprise to take this possibility to the illogical extreme and consider the next step: sponsorship on high school team uniforms.
Let’s call it a bad idea whose time has come.
It’s easy to lament the commercialization of sports, but with the fractured state of high school athletic department budgets in mind, let’s not go there just yet.
In fact, let’s keep reflexive emotion out of it and play on the field of reason, at least for a moment.
Financial trouble has caused cutbacks in sports offerings all over Westchester and Connecticut. Smaller teams — like swimming — have been eliminated or forced to raise their own funds, while modified programs have been cut to ribbons. Even vaunted football programs in places like Yonkers have been put on notice. At root: Isn't it worth keeping the football team for the price of a few sewn on corporate logo?
The sacred nature of gyms and ball fields has already been spoiled by corporate generosity — most commonly on scoreboards. Liberal Hastings-on-Hudson even had BP, the environmental ogre, give money for a Little League scoreboard.
And guess what? The world kept spinning on its axis and everyone lived to tell the tale.
Two public school athletic directors, who asked for anonymity because the knew advocating for jersey sponsorship would unsettle parents and put them in the hot seat, said it was an imperfect but eminently workable solution to a nearly intractable problem: finding enough money in an age of fading public funding for enough high school sports.
Budget cuts have eliminated or imperiled many sports teams. As community members, should we wring our hands about professional leagues making a crass grab for the advertising dollar or simply get in on the action while we can?
Marek Fuchs is the author of "A Cold-Blooded Business," the true story of a murderer, from Westchester, who almost got away with it. He wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column about life in Westchester for six years and teaches nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville. Follow him on Twitter: @MarekFuchs.
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