The Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) made history on February 12th by becoming the first professional sports team in North America to don jerseys that had their Twitter names on the back of their jerseys. Could this be the sign of things to come as more sports teams look for ways to engage their fans through the use of social media?
Social media is all about engagement-engaging in conversations that heretofore were not possible. And when it comes to sports and athletes, we fans love to engage with our favorite players.
Recently the NFL allowed its players to tweet from the sidelines during the Pro Bowl-a bold move indeed, especially from the No Fun League.
Of course the Pro Bowl is a glorified exhibition at best and I don't think we'll see ANY league allow for "real" in-game social media usage, but yesterday one professional sports team upped the proverbial ante and it will now be curious to see if other teams follow suit.
The team in question is the Philadelphia Wings of the NLL and their bold move to allow its players to replace their last names on the back of their jerseys with their Twitter handles was a natural progression according to Dustin Godsey, director of marketing for the Wells Fargo Center - home of the Wings.
"Social media is becoming more prevalent in sports marketing plans," said Godsey who also predicted this move could impact how other sports teams look at the use of social media when it comes to marketing their teams and players.
Wait And See
I think you're going to see other teams in not just the NLL but ALL professional sports leagues, take a wait and see attitude regarding the use of Twitter handles on jerseys.
I don't think you're going to see "@KingJames" on the back of a Miami Heat jersey anytime soon but-on the other hand, just imagine what that would do for sales of LeBron James' jerseys? Suddenly kids and grownups alike will want to rush out to buy their LeBron "Twitter" jersey. And that's just one star in one sport. Factor in ALL sports and ALL stars with Twitter handles and, cha-ching indeed.
Then of course we would see the sneakers come out with Twitter handles on them...I mean you can't wear a Twitter jersey and not wear the matching Twitter sneakers, right?
You know what...
Forget what I said about "... not seeing "@KingJames" on the back of a Miami Heat jersey anytime soon."
Look for one and all others like it at a shopping mall, online retailer, mobile ad and any other advertising medium you can think of in the very near future.
So is the Wings' use of Twitter handles on jerseys, a one time thing? Or do you think this is only the beginning? Love to hear your thoughts.
Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email, Twitter , LinkedIn or his website.