In the film Talladega Nights, the issue of safety comes about when Ricky Bobby decided it would be a good idea to have a sponsor branded over the windshield of his car. The comedic delivery of the scene demonstrated the obscene amount of sponsors a NASCAR driver can have, but when does player safety override advertising efforts?
An actual event that addresses player safety vs. branded products was Notre Dame (ND) and their sponsored brand, Adidas. ND’s long-term contract with Adidas allows them to supply their football team with manufactured sports gear on demand. The issue with this contract is that Adidas has a choke hold on ND when it comes to displaying their brand.
Case: ND’s quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, suffered an ankle injury during a game. In order to continue playing, the trainers taped his foot, but they taped it so heavily that the tape covered part of the Adidas logo on his shoe. An Adidas official, who combs the field during the game to make sure their logo is being represented properly, demanded that the trainers alter the tape to show the logo.
Really Adidas? You want the trainer to adjust the tape on an injured ankle so your logo will be seen? Keep in mind that every other player on the team is wearing the same shoe, oh and that the Adidas logo is plastered over everything the football team wears. The interesting part of this case is after head coach Charlie Wies protested Adidas’s request, a ND administrator for the team sided with Adidas.
My point: When does player safety take precedence over the visibility of a logo? Should brands be allowed on field and be able to make requests so their logo is seen on a shoe? Yes, the tape could have been moved, but what if the logo had to be covered for this specific ankle injury? I give props to Wies for defending his injured player, but should Adidas be able to demand logo visibility on a shoe in the middle of a game?