Have Australian NRL teams sold their souls?
In 1998, with the inclusion of the Melbourne Storm into the National
Rugby League, many of us ‘south of the border’ had our interest
in the game rekindled. Incredibly, the Storm played and won the Grand
Final in 1999. What a sight as Glenn Lazarus led his boys out onto the
field, all wearing their blue and purple jerseys with two lightning
bolts down the front, along with the small Honda symbol on each sleeve.
St George-Illawarra wore their usual red and white, but their sponsors
logo ‘Integral’ took up a third of their jersey.
By the time Melbourne Storm reached their second NRL Premiership in
2007, their uniforms looked more like the team from ‘Medibank’
were playing ‘Delmege’ instead of Melbourne Storm versus
the Manly Sea Eagles. In 2009, ‘Me Bank’ were apparently
playing ‘Pirtek’, not Melbourne Storm vs Parramatta Eels.
As sponsors come and go, one does have to wonder what overseas viewers
make of our ever changing team ‘names’.
Of course teams need sponsors, but how can they allow a company logo
to cover up their very identity? That privilege really should cost as
much as it would to field a team of their own. A jersery is the very
essence of a club. The teams in the NRL and their sponsors are their
own worst enemies. Old and new fans alike want to identify with their
club not the sponsor. Many, myself included, won’t buy logo dominated
clothing, merchandise or memorabilia because it ‘screams’
sponsor rather than club.
Australian Rules Football teams have never lost sight of what their
‘on field image’ means nor have they ever traded their ‘souls’
for sponsorship funding even in the face of financial collapse. Their
jerseys carry sponsor logos on the front, but these are restricted to
a small area on the upper left side, opposite the AFL logo. In the United
States, NBA and NFL team jerseys have only the smallest of sponsor logos,
usually bottom left.
By comparison, Australian rugby league clubs have prostituted themselves.
Now it’s time they reclaimed their dignity and relegated sponsor
logos back into the background where they belong. NRL - stop treating
the front of team jerseys like billboards.
In fact- how about it Melbourne Storm? - be the first to buck the trend
and let’s see the lightning again!!
Have your say on the Storm Surge Forum.