What keeps basketball bouncing in small market countries

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Japanese sport drink Pocari Sweat is a major advertiser for the Korean Basketball League.

Did you know that in the 2013-2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) season is rumoured to have teams wear advertisements on their jerseys.
If the rumour is to be true, and chances are that it is, then the NBA will have finally caught up to what every other pro basketball league has already embraced. That is to generate as much profit from advertisement as possible.
I got the idea to write about advertisements in sports (specifically basketball) after recently attending a Korean Basketball League (KBL) match in Jeonju, South Korea. The team name is the KCC Egis, and their opponent was the Anyang KGC. Now I wondered what KCC and KGC Credit union order meant.
So I did a quick search and found that all KBL teams are named after big corporate sponsors. Every team names their team after their respective sponsor. This is a corporation’s way to produce mass advertisement through sports (by the way, incase you were wondering, KCC is a Korean based corporation that produces chemical and auto parts while KGC stands for Korean Ginseng Corporation, producers of Ginseng).
A total of 8 ads spread across the Joenju KCC Egis home floor.
Team names are much different in these foreign leagues (Asia, Europe, Africa) than your traditional teams in the NBA (city name followed by mascot name). The reason is simple, the old mighty dollar. Advertisements are what keep these pro leagues operational.
The NBA receives nearly $1 billion a year for its broadcasting rights from networks such as ABC/ESPN and TNT. No other basketball league in the world comes even close to that kind of money for its broadcasting rights. Other leagues are forced to go elsewhere for revenue, and so they try and place ads anywhere and everywhere.
The KBL (and other leagues for that matter) go to the extreme. Players can be seen wearing advertisement “tattoos” painted on each bicep.
Theoretically it’s a win-win situation. The league makes money, and the corporation gets their ad out there, and eventually drives consumers towards their product to build revenue. But this is where it gets interesting. What about the player’s perspective?
Game action between KCC (Jeonju) and KGC(Anyang)
For example, NBA superstar Lebron James has a huge endorsement deal with Coca Cola. Let’s say for instance the Miami Heat (James’ team) signs a 5-year deal with Pepsi allowing them to put a Pepsi logo on the Heat player jerseys. Can you see the conflict of interest? It then becomes player vs. owner vs. league vs. advertisers and that has a receipt for immediate disaster.

Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of Basketballbuddha.com.

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