Adam Silver stole the show on Friday morning at the annual All-Star Technology Summit at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. He announced that the NBA is working on a jersey that can literally change its name and number at the tap of a button. This technology is not currently in plans to be available to the public for a number of years, Silver even using them in a “What Could the NBA Fan Experience Look Like in 2038” presentation.
While I can see these coming far sooner than 2038, I think that we could see these jerseys roughly around 2023-24 and I think that they are an incredible idea. Specifically for collegiate sports, which has a system that sees players with their teams for anywhere from 1-5 years, adaptive jerseys could be a key development for fans around the country, and even bigger scale, around the world. This is a perfect product for the casual sports fan, or even die-hards who can’t stand to buy a new jersey every time Duke finds the “next great NBA prospect”, the possibilities are endless for a design like this, and make me wonder what other sorts of technologies we could see entering the sports world in coming years.
With a product like this, there was obviously a lot of memeing done by the “Twitterverse”, so I’m gonna share some of my favorites. There were the usual, “what we thought was gonna happen in 2019 vs. what actually happened in 2019”, as well as the purely genius “KD and LeBron have bandwagon fans” jokes that just never seem to stop being funny. But there were also some quality jokes made about the potential price point, and many speculated that microtransactions would ensue for each change in name/number. The best of these jokes even included a company which is known for an absurd amount of microtransactions, Electronic Arts (EA), and how the NBA needs to partner up with more ‘fan friendly’ companies when designing consumer products.
Any way that you spin this, I think it can be looked at, at the very least, as a huge testament to where our technology is at. This idea is a huge stepping stone into a bright, and advanced future, and an incredible idea that could help solve one of the greatest dilemmas in being a sports fan.