All those T-shirts of losing teams? Off to Africa.
Major League Baseball is teaming up with World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian aid group, to save mislabeled clothing from the postseason for Ghanaians affected by recent flooding.
(Page 2 of 2)
"It would be a horrible waste of a fine piece of apparel to destroy it," says Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman. "Working with World Vision, we are able to provide those who are less fortunate with very nice pieces of apparel that may not mean that much to them in terms of who won and lost but does make a difference in their quality of life."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
As part of its agreement with the NFL and MLB, World Vision must ship all of the clothing overseas, preferably to places where the items won't offend wounded sports fans and defeated players.
"If you were to see someone walking down the street wearing a Cleveland Indians World Series Championship shirt (the Indians lost their spot in the World Series to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday), obviously that would stand out as out of place," says Armus. "It might cause embarrassment to the team, and it might cause problems for our licensees in as much that it's [no longer an] authorized product."
"It's something the leagues don't want to have distributed," says Craig McCormick, buyer of licensed products for Sports Authority, a national sporting- goods store based in Denver. "It dilutes the whole meaning behind the T-shirts."
While the MLB and NFL need to print fewer than 300 shirts and caps for each potential victor, retailers often take bigger risks. Before the 2007 Super Bowl, Mr. McCormick and his colleagues at Sports Authority took a costly gamble. With the Chicago fan base a historically good market and encouraged by sales from the team's NFC Championship win, the outlet printed 15,000 to 20,000 T-shirts proclaiming the Chicago Bears as the Super Bowl champs long before the kickoff.
"The payoff is that you can open your doors right after the game, and you would have had products right there for the fans to come in and buy," says McCormick. "We'll normally sell through all of that product if we do open up right after the game."
Although the wager proved wrong, McCormick made the best of the situation. He had teamed up with World Vision prior to the Super Bowl, so he could donate the clothes rather than destroy them.
They were not the only vendor to bet wrong on the Bears for Super Bowl XLI. World Vision received its largest shipment ever from that game, collecting more than 100,000 shirts and hats worth at least $2.5 million, and distributed them to people in Zambia and other parts of Africa.
Not only does working with World Vision provide corporations like Sports Authority an alternative to destroying the clothes, it also allows them to recoup some of the loss by receiving a tax credit for the charitable donation, which is a major draw for many big companies, says Karen Kartes, media relations director for World Vision. Additionally, World Vision picks up the clothes from the retailers, further reducing the cost companies would have paid to destroy the items.
"For the most part, these folks we're serving really have no idea who the Chicago Bears or the Boston Red Sox are," says Fields. "They're just glad to get a new piece of clothing that has never been worn before and isn't a hand-me-down and doesn't have a hole in it."