So two teams are facing off for the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup. One wins and immediately that team is shown wearing baseball caps and T-shirts that say they are the champions. But suppose the other team wins? Well, then they also, within minutes, would be shown with their championship Ts.
We’re talking official gear here; anybody can print any shirt they want if they aren’t afraid of copyright police, but the official licensees have to follow the rules. If they don’t, they may lose out entirely. If they jump the gun and print their team’s championship shirts early, they may jinx that team so that it loses. (St. Louis is in trouble.)
This is how it works. The championship shirts are all the same — except for the name and/or logo of the winning team. Take a look at any year this century. The shirts are neutral, either gray or white, and have a big trophy in the middle or words saying “Champion”. Super Bowl shirts are an exception; sometimes they are colored shirts — possibly this is only done when the shirt color will not offend either team. Later on, they can print full color logos and so on for an entire year; now they have to hedge their bets. So: a team wins and, immediately, screens are set up to print the name of that team (usually in one or two colors) on that generic shirt. A few shirts and caps have already been printed for both teams. The winner gets their shirt right away and the printer starts cranking out the proper shirts. In 2011 when the Canucks looked to possibly take the Stanley Cup in game 6, an outfit called Get Bold had workers sitting by the presses, ready to churn out 900 T-shirts an hour all through the night.
Alas, it was not to be. So what happened to the two hundred or so shirts and caps that had already been printed for the Canucks? Well, they were shipped to Nicaragua where there had been an earthquake and people were homeless and short on clothing. This has long been the method for pro sports team license holders to get rid of their stuff. Various charities are given the gear to distribute as they wish. World Vision is a big recipient but there are many others. Major league baseball, basketball, football, and hockey have all become very conscious of the dollar value of souvenirs over the last twenty years or so. They are very involved in licensing and, usually, the various leagues have supported charity giveaways of non-winner garb. It beats throwing them into a landfill.
Of course this means that Ugandans consider the Buffalo Bills to be the greatest football team ever. Haitians are partial to the Texas Rangers, 2011 World Series champs. Sometimes a loser shirt slips back to the big gravy world and is sold for less than you might think. Too bad, because this could work into quite a money-making deal for an impoverished village receiving World Vision handouts.
Somewhere in the world, your loser team is a champion. That’s the theme of this song which says that somewhere there is a village where the Canucks are 2011 champions, Calgary in 2004, Edmonton in 2006, Ottawa in 2007 – each team has its village. So, losing fans, take heart: somewhere there is a place you can go where your team is a winner. (Unless you’re from Toronto, of course.)