Sports Fans, Get Ready for Ad-Nausea

By Freeman, Mike | The Florida Times Union, May 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

Sports Fans, Get Ready for Ad-Nausea


Freeman, Mike, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Mike Freeman, The Times-Union

Spider-Man spinning webs on the base path is just the beginning. We will one day pine for the time when there were just a handful of jockeys wearing ads on their jockeys. Because we are a nightmare away from the beginning of a new era in sports.

Not the steroid era.

Not the me-athlete era.

But the crass, obnoxious commercialism era, when every athlete, on every field of play, looks like a NASCAR driver, his uniform and body tattooed with endorsements, and between quarters or innings, it will be commonplace to see players do live ads for Ford or Pepsi or Burger King.

"Hi, I'm Peyton Manning, and if you want to make great passes like the one I just threw , try Viagra. Don't be a bore, go out and score!"

This isn't science fiction. This is the not-so-distant future. Cue the slippery slope. There was baseball's attempt to put the Spider-Man 2 movie logo on bases. Boxers have painted ads on their abs. Race jockeys have joined the human billboard club. The leap from Jeff Gordon's handsome mug being splashed with ads and Tim Duncan's extra long uniform sporting Starbucks logos no longer seems so grand.

Mike Tyson enters the ring. The camera pans to his broad lower back, where there is a tattoo that says, "1800Bailbondsman.com."

The reason for the sudden surge in uniform peddling, and for the bigger surge yet to come, is cash of course. Television money has been the lifeblood of sports franchises and once upon a time seemed unlimited, like oil in Saudi Arabia.

But the pockets of the networks are not so deep after all. Now, both franchises and players are seeking alternative revenue streams. It's no longer enough to make millions in profits or salaries. …

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