Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super (Bowl) Waste- What happens to the losing teams t-shirts?

Photo: The BQE
Are you counting down the minutes until kick-off? This Sunday boasts the biggest game in sports and people will be hanging out in man caves, bars, on couches, and tailgates around the country are rooting on their favorite team! I'm not writing today to discuss trick plays or favorite teams- but rather ask (and answer) the question of 'what happens to the losing teams tshirts?'

Watching the final seconds tick down and wishing I was there to see the bursts of confetti and fire works in real life- I silently wondered how in the heck they printed the tshirts so fast! Super Bowl XL Pittsburgh Steelers Supers Bowl Champions!!! (That happens to be the last time I watched the game.*) Players, in an instant, are donning their straight brimmed hats and tees as the losing team is still trying to make their way off the field. The truth is, it isn't in an instant. Manufactures actually produce and stock two sets of t-shirts, hats and other merchandise, declaring each team the champ. According to this Metal Floss article Sports Authority alone printed 15,000 shirts proclaiming one team as the winner weeks ahead of time. There ends up being a whole lot of misprinted merchandise wasted- estimated at more than 100,000 tshirts for the Superbowl game alone. Let's take into consideration the MBL, NHL, and NBA too. Is your brain boggled yet about the massive amount of waste happening here? 


Photo: World Vision
That’s a lot of apparel that can’t hit store shelves, and seem like fine candidates for the incinerator, instead.(Gasp!!) And for a long time, thats where it went because all four major American pro sports leagues — MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL — require the destruction of incorrect post-season apparel.
There is good-ish news, the leagues have changed the way they do things and now all four - plus manufacturers and retailers like Reebok, Sports Authority, Dick’s and Modell’s — instead give the gear to a group called World Vision, which saves the merch from certain doom and puts it to use.
Photo: World Vision
World Vision "has accepted hundreds of official shirts and caps from the sporting world immediately following big events," says Jeff Fields, the organization's senior director of gifts-in-kind. "Instead of being destroyed, the 'runner up' team’s shirts and caps are shipped from the event site to World Vision’s Gifts-in-Kind Global Distribution Center in Pittsburgh." From there, the apparel is packaged with other needed items to be sent to the charity's field staff around the world. In places as diverse as Romania, El Salvador, Rwanda and Mongolia, "World Vision workers distribute the apparel to children and families in need, many of which have never owned new clothing." On average, this equates to about 100 pallets annually — $2 million worth of product — or about 100,000 articles of clothing that, instead of being destroyed, will help children and adults in need. World Vision thinks that’s 100,000 reasons to love the Super Bowl even more.
But is it? I'm happy to learn that the tees aren't just wasted- but I still don't understand why they can't hold off making them until after the game (minus a few needed for the players). Who really need a championship shirt at 9am? 

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