The Michigan High School Athletic Association has decided that high school teams cannot sell ad space on their uniforms to offset costs.
Given the financial crisis Michigan education finds itself in, this is a very shortsighted ruling. Revenue gained by selling advertising on football and basketball jerseys may be the only thing that saves some of the “minor” sports in cash strapped school districts. Collegiate athletic teams prominently display the logos of athletic equipment companies. The University of Michigan gets $7.5 million a year to sport the Adidas logo. Professional European teams—especially soccer—have corporate logos plastered all over their uniforms.
What’s the harm if Joe’s Pizza wants to have a patch on the sleeve of a small town football team’s jersey?
Interestingly, golf, tennis and bowling apparently are not included in the ruling because they are governed by outside agencies. Bowling shirts apparently can have ads on the sleeves. Advertising on golf shirts apparently has not yet been an issue. It presumably would be up to the USGA to determine if that was allowed for an amateur team.
I wish I’d thought of that when I was coaching High School golf. One thing that bothered me was that—unlike football—the kids on the golf team had to provide their own equipment (clubs) and purchase their own uniforms. That’s enormously expensive. It was expected that we would run fundraisers to pay for such “incidentals” as uniforms and balls. The problem I found was after the football, basketeball, cheerleading, drama and other school groups have run through their fundraising programs, there just isn’t a lot of space on the calendar, or money left in people’s pockets for the golf team. On the other hand, I’m sure that I could have gotten one of the local custom embroidery shops to donate the golf shirts if they could put their name and web address on the sleeve.
I’m not coaching now, but what I’d really like is to become the first classroom teacher sponsored by Nike (or Adidas). They’d provide me with a stipend to get classroom supplies and supplement my income, as well as an official wardrobe of slacks, shoes and shirts to wear every day to work. I’d even be willing to start every day’s PowerPoint presentation with a display of their logo.
So what about it Nike? Adidas? Any takers?