Last year the Patriots went 19 – 0 and won the Super Bowl, the Colorado Rockies beat the Red Sox in the World Series, and the Lakers pulled it out to beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals. For American sports fans, we know that the opposite is true, but for the people of Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and other poor countries, they wear the losers’ championship gear that was never able to be sold.
If you have ever watched a team win the big championship game, you know that as soon as the final second is over or the final out is made the winning team gets their championship gear and wears it right out on the field or the court. The t-shirts and hats are made for both teams before the games are played so that the players can get their championship gear before anyone else. But what happens to the losers’ t-shirts and hats?
The losers’ gear is hidden, never to be seen by Americans, and it is forbidden to be sold on eBay. According to a New York Times article written by Lee Jenkins about the 2007 Chicago Bears’ Championship gear being shipped to Africa, “[the gear] will be shipped Monday morning to a warehouse in Sewickley, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where they will become property of World Vision, a relief organization that will package the clothing in wooden boxes and send it to a developing nation, usually in Africa.” By doing this, the losing team will not have to see a random person on the streets wearing the championship shirt they should have won. Also, it lets the professional sports give back to their charities so everybody wins, so to speak.
But others like Sean Smith, writer of the blog “Sports Babel: Disconnect in the Sportocracy,” believe that this donation, seemingly generous, is a way for the company that manufactures the gear to basically be excused from overproducing and wasting energy, resources and money by making two sets of championship gear when they know only one will be used. In turn, by sending the gear to Africa they are polluting their land and getting a big tax write-off. Although the people in Africa do not have electricity for a television to know who won the championship game, they will be exposed to the logos of these companies. Also, making their donation public is a way for the company to get positive publicity.
I believe that the donation of these companies is mostly because they want to help the poorer areas of the world have clothing and also to avoid the loser championship gear being sold in America. But getting that tax write-off and getting the positive publicity is a convenient plus for the companies.
I think that this donation does help the people of Africa, although donating the money that would make these shirts to help these people build houses or have clean running water might be more helpful. But giving them clothing is a good step to help the poverty in the world today, and it is good to see the world of professional sports giving back.