Nothing is better than your team making it all the way to the Super Bowl, World Series, or any other championship game. But then there’s that bitter disappointment if you get all the way to the end, only to choke and lose to the other guys.

Now you’re seeing the winning team’s merchandise all over stores – championship t-shirts, cool keychains, and stylish hats and caps. It’s painful. What happened to your team’s stuff though? Is it just sitting in a warehouse collecting dust?

It’s time to find out the answers!

A Brief History of Sports Merchandise

source: sporttechie.com

Sports merchandise has a long history of being valuable to fans. Those t-shirts, hats, and other branded gear help people show their allegiance to their favorite teams and bond with others in the community.

Merchandise from the championship games in particular are a memento of a special moment in a team’s history. Take for instance the Chicago Cubs who won the World Series in 2016. Fans had waited 108 years for that to happen, and as a result, spent over $70 million in the first 24 hours alone on the championship merchandise! If that’s not enough, people could order the merchandise via Uber and have it delivered directly to their door!

It just goes to show sports fans love their merch. It’s a market that continues to boom, especially when the big game is underway.

Where Does the Losing Team Merchandise Go?

All that apparel and other merch is pre-printed with the team’s name and the year of the championship before the game has even begun. So the question is:  What happens to all the losing team’s stuff?

The short and sweet answer is a lot of it is donated to charity. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all partner with different organization so the merchandise can be reused by people in need.

The two charities that sports organizations have worked with most over the years include:

  1. World Vision
  2. Good360

World Vision

Source: Pinterest

World Vision, a Pittsburgh charity that distributes clothes to people in need in third world countries.

The losing team’s gear is sorted by size, repacked, and shipped off to people in need in countries all over the world by World Vision.

The country rotates every year – for instance, children in Zambia were given Chicago Bears Super Bowl items from 2007 when they lost against the Colts. This gives people in need the chance to get comfortable clothing and learn a little more football, basketball, or baseball.

Good360

Source: mentalfloss.com

Good360, a non-profit that donates clothing and other goods to families and communities impacted by natural disasters and other challenging situations.

This is another organization that’s worked with various sports organizations on reusing their leftover merch. They’ve partnered specifically with the National Football League since 2015 and choose where to disperse the leftover merchandise based on who’s most at need.

Professional sports organizations are always trying to work with charities like these to ensure the merchandise isn’t being wasted. It’s just one way they can give back to people in need.

ESPN showed how the 2008 New England Patriots’ gear made its way to Nicaragua!

How is Team Merchandise Printed So Fast?

The turnaround time for championship gear is crazy fast and both the winning and losing team merch is created at the same time. For instance, when the Seattle Seahawks lost against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, all of their “2014 champion” shirts were already in production. They could easily have seen their stuff in the store the next day had they won!

This is possible thanks to the promotional products industry! The professional sports organizations all order their custom gear in bulk, and when it comes to their respective finals, nationals, or championship games, the printers plan ahead of time on getting the merch ready.

It’s kind of like how you obsessively track players and teams during Fantasy Football. The screen printers or custom apparel companies closely watch each season to determine whose logo they may have to print. Each stencil is made ahead of time, everything is set up, and when it’s “go” time, the shirts, hats, and other items take between 10 and 15 seconds to make.

This makes it easy for stores to have either merchandise in their hands the day after the championship depending on who wins.

Final Thoughts

According to Transparency Market Research, licensed sports merchandise is expected to reach $48.17 billion by 2024. Every championship game will yield more shirts, hats, jackets, and all kinds of other swag.

The losers of these games, meanwhile, can rest easy knowing their gear is being put to better use. It may not take away the sting of losing, but who knows? It could just be creating new fans on the other side of the world!

References

Rovell, D. (2016, November 4). Cubs Championship Gear Setting Merchandise Records. Retrieved August 20, 2019, from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/17965234/chicago-cubs-championship-gear-already-setting-merchandise-records

Sciarretto, A. (2018, February 5). Pre-Printed Super Bowl Championship Shirts? No, They Aren’t Destroyed. Retrieved August 20, 2019, from https://www.bustle.com/p/what-happens-to-the-losing-teams-pre-printed-super-bowl-championship-shirts-no-they-arent-destroyed-8120349

Burns, M. (2016, November 3). Fanatics, Uber Deliver On-Demand Championship Merchandise to Chicago Cubs Fans. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.sporttechie.com/fanatics-uber-deliver-on-demand-championship-merchandise-to-chicago-cubs-fans/

Transparency Market Research. (2016, October 20). Licensed Sports Merchandise Market to Reach US $48.17 Billion by 2024. Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/licensed-sports-merchandise-market-to-reach-us4817-billion-by-2024—a-new-research-report-by-transparency-market-research-597749011.html

Palacios, D. (2015, February 2). How Do Sports Team Get Their Championship T-shirts so Fast? Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.marketplace.org/2015/02/02/how-do-sports-teams-get-their-championship-t-shirts-so-fast/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.