My child is not your billboard.

I’ve looked forward to the day my son would join sports for years. I love getting outside, the look of joy on his face as he runs around and healthy iPad-free competition. My oldest son, now 6, is the first of my boys to join competitive sports. The oldest two have taken karate for awhile, but team sports are a whole other ballgame. There’s running, soccer balls flying and of course those socks I can never get over his shin guards without a fight.

When it came time to get my son’s first jersey I was excited. I’m proud that he plays in sports. In addition, to be honest, I wanted something to show off his participation. That was until I saw the advertisement written in bold letters across the back. I asked myself, where do we draw the line with advertisements in children’s sports? My son is not your billboard.

As soon as I turned my son’s t-shirt/jersey around my heart sank. In giant letters across the back were the words IT WORKS and the web address to the sponsor’s site directly below. Despite the fee I paid for him to join, $75 + a $35  late fee because I missed registration totalling $110, his back was sold to a sponsor. I thought I would have happily paid a few dollars more to have his name, or nothing, on his jersey.

I dove deeper and I learned that for $250 you could “sponsor” the team and have your ad placed on the back of team shirts. Not a child’s last name, encouraging words or team name…diet supplements. Diet supplements and an advertisement from a company that plagued my inbox after the births of my children.

The messages always start off friendly and then turn into the same sales pitch. Oh, I see you’re post-partum? Have you tried a wrap? I lost 15 lbs in 3 days! You should try one! Want to join my team? You should really do a cleanse, I’m down 30 lbs this week. All I can think is, if you dropped 30 lbs in a week you’ve had one or both of your legs amputated and were, and possibly still are, full of shit.

Where is the line drawn? It’s okay to advertise weight loss gimmicks on the back of 6 year-olds? How about adult shops? I’m a doTerra rep, should I have no conscience in having a group of children running around with my web address on their backs? Out to stores with their parents, for Ice cream and hanging on the clothes line?

The truth is that there is a line and it’s up to parents and teams to know where to draw it. Weight loss gimmicks cross the line to me. This shirt will not be worn outside of games and if I can I’m going to melt the add off after the season is over. If not, it will be cut up and turned into Eco-friendly tomato ties.

For next year? For next season I plan on being first in line to pay $250 to sponsor my son’s team. I get it, they need money to run the organization. What will I write on the back of the jerseys? This blog’s website, my affiliate doTerra page or how about my second site The Green Vagina? No. All kids deserve a positive message. I’m going to pay $250 to write “I’m an awesome kid” on every shirt because our children, my children, are not billboards. They’re kids, and shame on anyone for seeing them as advertising opportunities.

What do you think crosses the line in children’s sports advertisements?

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