Updated: February 25, 2013 6:06PM
Seventeen-year-old basketball phenom Jabari Parker, the reigning national player of the year, stood dutifully in his Chatham high school gym in December. On his right sat Robert Smith, Parker’s coach at Simeon Career Academy. On his left, a table with five ball caps, representing the five colleges vying to sign the 6- foot-8 forward. Parker smiled into the TV cameras, leaned behind the podium, and pulled out a jersey sporting the Duke University logo — and the Nike Swoosh.
But Nike didn’t have to wait for the commitment ceremony to get its logo on Parker. The young star has been obligated to wear Nike gear on court since his sophomore year, when Smith signed a four-year contract with the Oregon-based shoemaker. The contract, obtained by Grid through a Freedom of Information Act request, provides players at Simeon, a public high school, with new Nike shoes and apparel worth about $26,000 per year. And it has resulted in more than $1 million worth of exposure for Nike, mostly thanks to Parker’s rarefied status.
The contract also offers a rare glimpse into the world of unregulated deals between public schools and sports marketers. Sponsorship deals like Simeon’s have become common for top-tier high-school athletic programs — but public schools without blue-chip talent get little or no corporate largesse. Apparel-makers and other companies cut deals with individual schools without the involvement of Chicago Public Schools, allowing sponsors to lavishly underwrite some schools and ignore others. The district lets individual schools sign sponsorship deals and doesn’t track the contracts, according to a spokesman. Nike and other companies won’t disclose how much they spend or which schools they do business with. Nike’s contract contains a confidentiality clause prohibiting Simeon staff from discussing the deal’s terms. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
This story was first published by Grid, a weekly Wrapports publication. Also available at chicagogrid.com.