Radical Potential Change for Sports Jerseys

This weekend is All-Star Weekend for the NBA. During All-Star Weekend, there are lots of festivities both on and off the court. This year, NBA commissioner Adam Silver kicked off the weekend with a major announcement in regards to the future of its jerseys. At the NBA All-Star Technology Summit, Adam Silver announced and displayed a jersey where the number and name on the jersey could be changed through your smartphone. Take a look at the video below.

As you can see from the video, Adam Silver changes the jersey name and number right from his phone. It is a little unclear as to what kind of technology is behind this, but regardless, it is quite impressive. As impressive as it is, though, this new technology doesn’t seem to be beneficial for the actually jerseys that players are wearing during games. Instead, these new jerseys are most likely geared more towards fans. I would be surprised if jerseys worn by players even utilized this technology given that unless you are traded in the middle of a game, there wouldn’t be any need to change your name or number. There was however one player this season who was traded in the middle of a game. Regardless, this new technology will transform the way that fans are able to support their teams. Instead of buying multiple jerseys of different players on the same team, you could buy one jersey and then switch the name and number of whichever player you want to support. This is also beneficial for jerseys of players that leave a team. For example, say that you buy a Kevin Durant Warriors jersey, but the next season he is on a different team. With these new jerseys, you would be able to easily switch the name and number to another player on the Warriors, like Steph Curry for example. Or, instead of Cleveland fans burning LeBron jerseys when he left, they could merely switch to another player. So, instead of never wearing a jersey again, you are able to always make use of your jersey.

Many people are questioning why the NBA would come up with this, given that if the technology worked, it would mean that they would sell less jerseys. This is because if you are able to change the name and numbers, there is no need to buy multiple jerseys. My assumption, though, is that the jerseys will cost a set amount to buy, and then every time you change to another player, there will be a fee associated with that. It will interesting to see the pricing when these jerseys do come out. I might be a few years though before these jerseys become available to the public. It is also unclear as to whether you will only be able to change the names and numbers to actual players on that team, or if you can set the name and number to anything that you want. There are also big concern in regards to the security of these jerseys, especially if this these jerseys were worn by actual players. If people are able to hack into technology, it could cause major problems of names and numbers changing during games.

This jersey innovation is all very new, but it’s hard not to think about all of possibilities that this technology brings. If this ended up proving successful, it would completely change the jersey industry amongst all sports. There is definitely potential to make this a win-win scenario for both fans and sports leagues if the right payment model is implemented. Perhaps a subscription model would serve as the best way to fill the void of the projected decrease in actual amount of jerseys sold. I do think though that even if these jerseys take off, there will always be a market for traditional jerseys. Traditional jerseys are seen as collectible items, and if all jerseys become digitized, they lose their unique value. Also, lots of athletes sign autographs on the back of jerseys where the numbers are, which is something they will no longer be able to do with the new jerseys. Regardless, I think that there definitely will be a desire for the new jerseys. I am sure much more information will be released in the future, given that this was the very first introduction of the jersey technology. It will be extremely interesting in our visit to Fanatics to ask about their thoughts on this announcement, as they will most likely be a key component in delivering this new product to fans. They work closely with the NBA, so I assume they have much deeper knowledge surrounding this new technology. Perhaps this type of technology will not only transform the market for sports jerseys, but it will also lead to new innovations in the fashion industry as a whole.

8 thoughts on “Radical Potential Change for Sports Jerseys

  1. I could actually see this being a big revenue gain for the NBA and other sports leagues. I’m not sure how many jerseys the average fan buys, but this new type of jersey could be sold at a premium price and more than makeup the loss from a fan buying multiple NBA jerseys. As you mention, I would imagine that the regular jerseys of today will still have a customer base–jerseys are a clothing product that’s expected to be durable–and this wearable tech might be both expensive and susceptible to damage–and you probably wouldn’t want to wear it playing football/basketball with your friends.


  2. Nice post. I this could fit squarely in the category of cool tech, but one that doesn’t really have a business purpose (that you outline above). You might even bring it up at Fanatics when we visit with Doug Mack.


  3. When initially reading this I had similar concerns as you did, specifically that this would just hurt jersey revenue for the NBA. The idea that they can charge customers to change the name/number on a specific team’s jersey is a really cool idea! I think that people who are considered “super-fans” would not really appreciate this idea, as you said it kind of dimishes the unique value. But, I think it has major potential for those who want to support the NBA and are willing to change the name/number on their jersey without much thought.


  4. When I first saw this on Twitter I was super interested. Wearable technology like this can be cool (remember those hoodie sweatshirts with a built in speaker once upon a time back in grade school?). However, I’m thinking that this is more of a publicity stunt. Can’t really see a ton of pros for it from the perspective of the NBA. Really cool to see such innovations in the world of jerseys though! Exciting stuff and nice article!


  5. Crazy, it is hard to imagine this technology truly being given out to the public as it would be devastating to so many athletic brands. This could be a very interesting topic to bring up when we visit Fanatics. I wonder if they know any inside information on this new design; if they are part of it or if they have been experimenting with wearable technology at all. Nevertheless, the true value in this industry would seem to be the value associated with a teams jersey. Perhaps the focus will be turned on the different designs of a certain teams jersey rather than an individual players.


  6. It is so amazing to see the concept Internet of Things implemented on small things like sports jersey. I could see how this is useless in sports, but it can eventually get publicity through sport events and be commercialized in everyday wear! Imagine wear a T-shirt that can change pictures or emojis depending on your mood. I will definitely buy one.


  7. Cool post! I wonder how players’ feel about this technology in the sense that if they get traded, a fan can just change the name/number on the back of their jersey and support another player so quickly. Sounds like the perfect jersey for “fair-weather fans.” Definitely interested to see where this technology goes and how they plan to make a profit off of it. Also, do you know the company that created this technology?


  8. Great post! This is super cool technology, and I wonder how quickly we will be seeing it on the market. Also interested to see how expensive this technology would make the cost of the jerseys and other products. One of my first thoughts is how great this tech would be so that individuals could purchase one jersey or a hat that included all of your teams logos. So, for example, in the Boston area, there might be one shirt that could switch between Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox logo. Good for any occasion. Looking forward to seeing where this goes!


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