Sports in America were once pure, unadulterated entertainment. They brought us the joy of a win, the drama of a close match, and the hard lessons in sportsmanship that only a losing season can provide.
As their economic footprint grows, however, their spirit fades. Those who make a living off of the game at the league and ownership level are always out to make a buck, and with the coronavirus pandemic taking a big bite out of profits in 2020, one league is looking to recoup those losses in a gaudy and unwelcome way.
The National Hockey League has taken a major step towards the mainstreaming of corporate advertising on professional sports uniforms, by allowing teams to pursue helmet ad sponsors.
“Capital One has become the Capitals official helmet entitlement partner, fulfilling a new piece of sponsorship inventory for the 2020-21 NHL season,” Mark J. Burns of Sports Business Daily reported. “The banking and credit card company’s branding will appear on a 2.25” x 3.75” decal on the right and left side of Capitals’ helmets for home and away games as well as practices throughout the campaign.”
The corporate elite loved the idea, of course.
Capital One’s President of Business Operations and Chief Commercial Officer Jim Van Stone, hailed the deal.
“Many of the things they do at Capital One is centered around innovation,” Van Stone explained to SBJ. “… Their focus on innovation and technology is something that we find really, really exciting. We’ve always talked about when this next big opportunity comes, let’s be ahead of the ballgame.”
There is little doubt that this sort of encroachment on the game will draw heavy criticism from around the sports world, particularly as similarly-strapped owners in other leagues affected by the coronavirus look to follow suit.
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