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High school hockey league introduces sponsors on jerseys for 2012-13 season

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Much has been written about the seeming inevitability about sponsors eventually adorning NBA jerseys. While emotions seem to be mixed about seeing an insurance ad on a Lakers jersey, they may be more strained about a league openly adding sponsor logos for the 2012-13 season.

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Images of the 2012-13 Upper Midwest Elite League hockey jerseys — Upper Midwest Elite League

Images of the 2012-13 Upper Midwest Elite League hockey jerseys — Upper Midwest Elite League

Even more surprisingly, this league stars high school players, not compensated professionals.

As first noted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Upper Midwest High School Elite League, a teenage hockey league that features top prospects from across Minnesota and bordering states, will have teams wear jerseys with large sponsor logos across the front during the 2012-13 season. The move is intended to help the fledgling developmental league increase vital sponsorship revenue.

Yet precisely how vital that sponsorship revenue remains in question. The Elite League is a non-profit organization, meaning that any sponsorship revenues it does bring in must be spent on the league itself. Considering the fact that the league is already operating at a relatively high level, there's legitimate question about what it needs the extra funding for.

Add to that some critiques of the esthetic design of the jerseys -- they seem a bit gimmicky with those fades, don't they -- and there's plenty of room for debate over whether this move was a good one for the league.

That question will almost certainly be on fans' minds as they gaze out at teens skating up the ice in uniforms that could easily fit in the Czech or German professional leagues. Whether or not anyone likes it, seeing Muscle Milk and Velocity training centers advertising on teenage game uniforms is a bold step into a brave new sponsorship world.

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