NBA To Sell Merchandise With Players’ Twitter Handles

The realm of social media may have originated online, but it is spreading further and further into ‘real life’ with every passing day.

One of the latest developments along this theme is the appearance of sports players’ Twitter handles on the back of their shirts in lieu of their names. Domestic Mexican football teams and American lacrosse teams claim to the be among the first teams to do this, yet the NBA are the first organisation to sell officially licensed merchandise displaying a player’s Twitter handle.

Social media creeping onto the sports field is something that has been happening for some time. England footballer Rio Ferdinand is a prolific member of Twitter, with over 2.5 million followers. Stitched into his boots that he wears while playing are his handle of @rioferdy5 and the hashtag #MAKEITCOUNT:

Rio Ferdinand boots

Speaking of the licensed merchandise, Lisa Pilken – the NBA’s VP of licensing – said: “We are always looking at new ways to connect with fans… As the top sports league on Twitter with more than 4.5 million followers on @NBA and more than 350 NBA players active on the site, we thought this would be a great way to engage with our fans.”

What do you think of this? Is it a clever piece of marketing, or will it make things confusing for the commentators and spectators? Obviously not all names easily convert to a Twitter handle, and some are already taken by other users, making it potentially difficult for the casual viewer to see who is who from the back of their shirts.