What Happens to the Losing Team’s Championship Shirts? (2010 Edition)


After a big game in any sport, from a league championship to the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, etc., people are going to be clamoring for commemorative merchandise almost immediately, so it would make sense to have two sets printed up—declaring each team the winner.

The major sports leagues all produce official hats and shirts for the players and staff of each team in championship games—usually about 300 items per team. Manufacturers and retailers must produce enough product to meet fan demands. Based on the strong sales after the Chicago Bears’ 2007 NFC Championship win, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory before the game even started. Then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.

That’s a lot of misprinted merch. Fortunately, there’s World Vision.

The Seattle-based international Christian humanitarian aid group works with Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA to collect misprinted merchandise and distribute it to people living in impoverished nations.

(MLB used to require the destruction of shirts and hats proclaiming the wrong champions, but two years ago they began donating their postseason apparel).

The merchandise doesn’t go to waste, people living in poverty receive new, clean clothes, and the clothing makers recoup some of their losses—they get tax credits for the charitable donations. Why don’t the clothes go to needy families in the United States? Overseas donation is part of the agreement between World Vision and the leagues. The farther away the clothing is, the less likely it is to offend a losing player (or heartbroken Texas Rangers fan).

Now that the San Francisco Giants (note: I am from Philly. Booo!) have knocked off the Rangers, some of the Texas team's championship merch will likely go to Indonesia, where World Vision's emergency response staff is dealing with the aftermath of a volcanic eruption at Mount Merapi in Java and a 7.2 earthquake in West Sumatra. Refugees are in desperate need of clean clothes. Still more merchandise will be distributed as it is needed in disaster-stricken and impoverished areas around the world.

According to USA Today, last year's Super Bowl loser's apparel was donated to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.