People in the Global South are wearing impossible t-shirts

Following last Sunday’s punishing Super Bowl, we came across this interesting Mental Floss article that gave us pause. It begins:

After a Big Game in any sport, fans and players are going to be clamoring for commemorative merchandise, often just minutes after the game ends. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening “We’re #1″ euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of t-shirts, hats and other merchandise, declaring each team the champ.

Huh! So that means the world is now in possession of a great grip of “Broncos: Super Bowl XLVIII Champs”-printed textiles, yeah? What on earth can be done with them?!

Apparently, until 1996, the suckers were just incinerated. What a waste! But since then, the nonprofit World Vision has been collecting and distributing the swag to less affluent people overseas.

This interesting infographic tells the tale:

nfl infographic updated1 Where Does The Merchandise Go From Losing Super Bowl Teams? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Interesting infographic courtesy of Blue Soda Promo

The recycling/waste-not-want-not aspect of this strikes us as pretty cool, but it’s also a bit weird, isn’t it? Or at least a bit surreal. All over the world, every year, more and more people are wearing clothes that appear to be commemorating major American sporting events—but they’re all completely fictional.

What’s your take on all this? Tell us in the comments.

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Comments (4)


  1. M writes:
    February 8, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I’m surprised Idealist would post about this. There’s a well-documented history of the controversy surrounding this program of World Vision’s and how it’s terrible practice in terms of aid: damages local economies, is not cost effective, is not needed and involves questionable financial practices. Pretty disappointed to see this hailed on the blog like this, with no other perspective.


  2. Debbi writes:
    February 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I’ve always wondered what happened to the losing team’s shirts and am thrilled that they are put into good use. The NFL issue shirts are generally high quality and will wear well for a long time.


  3. April Greene writes:
    February 10, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for writing in, M—YOURS is just the type of perspective we invited at the end of the post! Idealist is here to connect people with information about all sorts of efforts at good being made in the world; we leave it to our community to decide what they think of each.


  4. Stephanie writes:
    February 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Aren’t people in the “global south” wearing used US sports gear (professional, college, high school, etc.) anyway, as part of their daily wardrobe? I feel like people in the US don’t think about where their clothes go once they donate them or drop them off, but they often travel internationally to live new lives.

    Of course, it’s best not to waste clothes and I’m glad that someone is using them, but I’m not particularly impressed with the notion that the rejected clothes are being sent to these people as though they should be grateful to be dumping grounds for unwanted gear, and that it’s being used as publicity for World Vision.


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