Monday, May 07, 2012

Corporate logos on sports uniforms... Not that new.

The NBA is considering adding corporate logos to its uniforms.

Of course, this is nothing new: European soccer teams have worn advertisements on their jerseys for years. And have you seen a Nascar driver lately? (This subject has been covered in depth by my friends at the Uni Watch blog.)

But while researching my book about the nineteenth-century sport of pedestrianism, I was a bit surprised to come across this image from the early 1880s. It appears in the book Runners & Walkers: A Nineteenth Century Sports Chronicle by John Cumming (Chicago: Regenery Gateway, 1981).

In it, the pedestrian John Hughes is donning a jersey with a corporate sponsor: The Police Gazette, which was one of the most popular periodicals in the country at the time. (Further research has shown that the publisher of the Gazette, Richard Kyle Fox, was a huge pedestrianism fan.)

I can't imagine there are many earlier examples of advertising on an athletic uniform.

John Hughes, by the way, was one of the great pedestrians in the second half of the nineteenth century. He won a six-day race at Madison Square Garden in January 1881 with 568 miles.