Industrial Teams, teams sponsored by industrial firms, banks, insurance companies, retail outlets, and other private enterprises. Industrial teams flourished during the 1920s through the 1950s, and began to go into decline during the 1960s. The majority of teams and players who belonged to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) during that era were sponsored by industrial and company sponsors.
Most notable kinds sponsors were petroleum companies (Phillips 66, Sunoco, Diamond DX), auto related (Firestone, Zollner Pistons, Stewart Chevrolet, Nash Motors), and for women white collar firms such as insurance companies (Employers Casualty, Lewis and Norwood Insurance). There were a great variety of industrial products sponsors, such as candy companies (Baby Ruth, Queen Anne) and earth moving equipment (Caterpillar), and athletic goods (Lowe and Campbell).
Industrial teams gradually emerged after the turn of the previous century, supplanting many club teams and YMCA teams, and their number exploded during the 1920s. Most were local, such as the many local businesses in Chicago that there formed into the Windy City League, but many industrial teams were national, notably those belonging to the National Industrial Basketball League, which lasted from 1947 to 1961.
The industrial team setup was often controversial. The teams were deemed amateur and belonged to the AAU because the players were recruited by the companies to work nine to five jobs during the week, and then represent the companies in basketball contests on the weekends. But there was considerable abuse of this system, as some companies barely required a full commitment to the office or work in the plant. In addition, some companies besides paying their basketball players a wage for their regular work also paid them expense stipends for their basketball travel and time, which in affect made them professionals.