[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Nike and Adidas are top competitors in the sports industry when it comes to sponsorships. Nike represents 98 colleges or universities while Adidas only represents 49. To play for a Nike school is to play for the elite. While I’m not trying to bash the big three slash, the statistics speak for themselves on whether or not athletes benefit if they wear the swoosh.
Nike is known for its innovative technology. Nike always seems to be ahead of the trend, coming out with top performance footwear, jerseys, etc. that give an edge to the player or team sporting the swoosh. When we lost Shabazz to UCLA, the Adidas jokes on Twitter were as frequent as Drew’s tweets about Taco Bell and Kate Upton. Gary Parrish even wrote an article on how important the “Adidas Factor” was in Shabazz’s decision…
“….it would be naive for anybody to suggest the financial relationship Adidas has with people around Muhammad didn’t factor into his decision to attend a Pac-12 school coming off a disappointing season highlighted by controversy. I mean, Adidas has sponsored Muhammad’s summer team (Dream Vision) for years, and his tennis-playing sister (Asia Muhammad) has an Adidas contract even though she’s ranked outside the top 375 in the world. This stuff has to matter on some level, you know?…
…Calipari also got Anthony Davis in part because of Nike because, trust me when I tell you, it was just as well known in basketball circles that Davis was almost certainly headed to a so-called Nike school as it was that Muhammad was almost certainly headed to a so-called Adidas school. Remember, Davis’ final list of possible destinations was Kentucky, Ohio State and Syracuse, and the most obvious thing those three have in common is that they are three of Nike’s most important college basketball programs”
When people take a look at the reasons behind a recruit signing with a school, many fail to notice if the sponsorship of the school is a major deciding factor or not. Based on the facts, is the sponsorship of the team that important to a recruit when making their college decision? When you have top programs that have an equal amount of pros and cons to the recruit, the swoosh and slash may be a bigger factor than many think.
If you look at the amount of times that a Nike school has been to the final four compared to Adidas schools since 2000, the statistics are staggering. While Adidas and Nike both had 2 schools in this year’s Final Four, that isn’t necessarily the common trend. Since 2000, Nike has had 3 or more schools in the Final Four while Adidas had zero teams in 8 of 13 Final Fours. Nike has been represented in each of the 13 years noted. Thus, Adidas schools have completely missed 61% of the Final Fours from 2000-2012. If that statistic isn’t convincing, just take a look at the other advantages players attending Nike schools have…
When Nike came out with the hyper elite platinum jerseys that Kentucky was chosen to wear, many of us just concentrated on the hideous color. But the uniform itself was apart of Nike’s innovative sportswear that they are known for producing. According to Nike, both short and jersey are tailored for the optimal efficiency of movement and are five percent lighter than the previous Nike Hyper Elite uniform. You don’t get that innovation and notoriety with Adidas.
Another aspect that many tend to forget when looking at the advantage of being a Nike school is the advantage of playing with a Nike basketball. Since the majority of schools in college athletics are sponsored by Nike, that ball is more commonly used and the players are use to it. The New York Times looked into how big of a factor the difference of basketballs is in college games and this is what they found…
The N.C.A.A. rule book mandates that basketballs must meet certain seemingly self-evident requirements to ensure some level of uniformity. For example, Section 15, Article 1 says, “the ball shall be spherical.” A ball must have a “deeply pebbled leather or composite cover” and “the traditionally shaped eight panels.” The rule book also specifies the three colors a ball can be (Orange 151, Red-Orange 173 or Brown 1535), and contains a detailed explanation about air pressure. The finer points state that basketballs used in men’s games can be a maximum 30 inches and a minimum 29 ½ inches in circumference, and they cannot weigh less than 20 ounces or more than 22 ounces.
But the difference in basketballs from brand to brand is not insignificant. Finicky shooters and ball-handling point guards might complain if they think certain brands are too slick or too rough, or that a certain basketball’s grooves are too deep or too shallow.
“It’s definitely a difference, and I think that’s something that goes under the radar sometimes,” Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs said. “It affects a little bit of everything: the handle, the gripping of it and the shooting of the ball. You just have to get used to it.”
Teams stock up on a variety of brands, practicing with their opponents’ brands before making trips. At pregame shootarounds, they can make adjustments based on the court, the rim or the shooting backdrop, and can familiarize themselves with the feel of the basketballs, too.
The use of basketballs may potentially be a factor in home winning percentages for teams who use basketballs that are less common as well. With as big of a percentage as Nike has in the use of their product in college hoops, one has to assume that those who rep the swoosh have the advantage. The Times attributed the use of the Spalding basketball, which is seldom used in college hoops, to Wisconsin’s home winning percentage of 91.7% at the Kohl Center since the team has been under Bo Ryan–who insists on using a Spalding. If you need more proof, just look at the statistics of the Notre Dame and Pittsburgh game…
When Notre Dame played at Pittsburgh last season, Fighting Irish Coach Mike Brey overheard guard Carleton Scott comment that he loved Spalding basketballs upon seeing them in a rack at Pittsburgh’s gymnasium. Brey recalled that Scott said that he played with Spalding basketballs in high school.
That night, Scott made 5 of 6 attempts from 3-point range on his way to scoring 16 points as 15th-ranked Notre Dame defeated No. 2 Pittsburgh.
Afterward, while speaking with members of his staff, Brey explained the reason for Scott’s offensive outburst, saying: “I told our coaches, ‘He loves that ball.’
There are players who have already built relationships with Nike or Adidas coming into college and whether people want to admit it or not, it’s a factor in deciding where to go to school. While most players don’t look at or take into consideration the pros and cons of playing with a Nike school as much as they should, it’s naive to believe that Nike doesn’t give players an advantage. Adidas is a good brand, but when it comes to college hoops, a player is much better off with the swoosh.
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