Addressing What We Do with the “Championship” Merchandise from a Team That Loses

Ah yes…what a joy it is to see the team you root for get a championship. You can then spend all night cheering, then get merchandise the next morning saying that your team won the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, etc. In fact, as I’m writing this, New England Patriots fans are probably still having fun buying merchandise saying that their team won the Super Bowl.

But what about the losing team?

Since there is such a desire to get merchandise to the players, coaches, and fans who won the championship in such short order, said merchandise is usually made, ahead of time, for both of the participants in the championship matchup. That way, all interested parties on the championship team can get their merchandise right after winning.

The “championship” merchandise of the losing team, on the other hand, goes to a different place. At least with many sports, the umbrella sports leagues work with organizations to make sure that the losing team’s merchandise can get to nations with people in need of clothing, such as places like Haiti after their catastrophic 2010 earthquake.[1]

On the surface, that sounds great: instead of destroying merchandise related to the losing team (which the National Football League apparently used to do), it’s repurposed for people in countries who really need the clothes, regardless of what those clothes say. And there’s no doubt that having these misprint clothes is way better than having no clothes at all.

That being said, there’s something off-putting about this practice. Namely, while this practice gives the appearance of helping those in most desperate need, this practice is also sending one or more of the following messages:

  1. “This stuff is not good enough for us; therefore, you can have it.”
  2. “We don’t want this stuff, so the poor people in poor countries must want this.”
  3. “We’ve taken what we wanted, so poor people can have the leftovers/what others didn’t want. Please take our unwanted garbage.”
  4. “People won’t know that the information is incorrect, and even if they did know, they wouldn’t care.”

None of the messages above are exactly positive ones, for sure. In fact, all of these messages revolve around a theme: that the developed United States, yet again, decides to use underdeveloped nations as a dumping ground for the “rubbish” that we don’t want.

So what should we do, then? For starters, we shouldn’t have misprint clothing exclusively go to developing nations (with the “correct” clothing only going to developed nations)—the benefits of the correct clothing and the burdens of misprint clothing should at the very least be shared. Additionally, it might be wise for these sports leagues to actually think about how they really want to sacrifice in order to help underdeveloped countries. Because let’s face it: sports leagues don’t sacrifice anything by giving away misprint championship merchandise to a place like Haiti—they don’t sacrifice any profits, they don’t sacrifice a portion or their fan base, and they don’t sacrifice on ticket prices, they don’t sacrifice anything else. However, using money and resources to make sure a child gets an education, gets health care, and gets food might sacrifice something monetarily, but would also do a ton of good.


[1] https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2017/1/14/14272992/what-happens-to-losing-teams-championsip-shirts

Where to Donate and Where Not to Donate

I was going to post on a different topic this week, but given the events in Texas and Louisiana, I decided to go in a different direction.

I want to start this post by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the people in Texas and Louisiana that are being hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. While I enjoy tracking storms (as I say in my own bio), I do not enjoy seeing people suffer like this. I hope that these areas recover and recover quickly.

Of course, some of us will try to help these areas recover quickly by giving to charities that are supposed to help hurricane victims. I deeply appreciate this desire, and people down in Texas and Louisiana will appreciate that desire as well.

However, I warn all of us to please be careful with where we give our money. I give this warning because not all charities do the positive work that they claim to do.

So how can people determine where they should or shouldn’t give their money? I have a few dos and don’ts, in no particular order:

  1. Saying this will be controversial, but don’t donate to the American Red Cross. I have to admit that this is somewhat personal, because my family in New York noticed after Superstorm Sandy that the Red Cross was more interested in photo-ops than helping people (an observation confirmed by a National Public Radio story two years later). These problems are well-documented, not just by an editorial I wrote while I was in college, but also by the sources I cited in my editorial (and, quite frankly, many sources not cited by my editorial). You want to give to a charity which has a good track record with natural disasters, and unfortunately the American Red Cross isn’t one of them.
  2. Don’t donate to a charity which lacks an established reputation. This seems obvious, yet there are so many scam charities which prey off of the big hearts of people.
  3. Do look at charity rating systems, such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau Wise Charity Alliance. Charity Navigator in particular is helpful because the organization’s pages for charities give you an idea of how transparent an organization is, what percentage of your donations go to the services a charity delivers, and more. These measurables are very important when you’re trying to determine whether to donate to a charity.
  4. Do research into what organizations have a presence in the area hit by the disaster. Speaking from my family’s experiences after Superstorm Sandy, some of the best work is usually performed by organizations that already had a presence in the area. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the best work in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Harvey is performed by organizations which already have a presence in that area.
  5. If there are any charities which did particularly good work after a natural disaster you experienced, do consider donating to said charities if they are going to be in the area hit by Harvey. You want to donate to a charity which has a positive track record with handling disasters, so there’s no better way to do that than donate to charities that helped you when you had a disaster. The only condition, of course, is that the same charity will be working in the areas hit by Harvey.

Even if you follow these dos and don’ts, there’s no guarantee that you will donate to the perfect organization. But hopefully this post has increased your chances of donating to a charity which helps people recover from Hurricane Harvey. After all, being blindly unjust in a situation like this is to give money that doesn’t go directly to victims, without even realizing that your money doesn’t go to the victims.