Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Unintended Benefits of the Super Bowl.

c. David Grim (taken 4/5/08)

Today on the way to work I heard a bit on NPR news about the donation of "mislabelled" Super Bowl gear to refugees in impoverished areas throughout the world. Apparently this is a tradition that the NFL has carried out for the last fifteen years. Obviously this year a bunch of starving kids are about to join Steeler Nation by sporting the colors featured on their Steeler Super Bowl XLV Championship tees. Y'now- "Seven is Heaven!" and all that sort of thing. That's certainly one way to ensure that the scope of Pittsburgh fandom is ever-expanding.

On one hand this is simply the right thing to do with a lot of specially-printed apparel that very few in the states would even consider purchasing at any price. After all, who wants to wear the proof of a revisionist interpretation of history? It would be like sporting the image of the World Trade Center with the caption "Made in America AND Still Standing!" But there are poor folks throughout the world that would rather advertise misinformation than be running around naked.

Still there is something unsettling about this entire scenario. Why must companies manufacture items in great quantities that have a 50% probability of being rendered "worthless" almost immediately after being produced? Do football fans really require the material manifestation of an event as soon as it has occurred? Whose enjoyment really needs to be validated by a damned t-shirt? And why can't Americans wait a day or two to get their wearable record of vicarious achievement? These are questions that might shed light on the true spirit and character of this nation.

I'm glad that children in places as diverse as Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania will get some brand new clothing to wear. But it's a bit of a shame that they are forced to advertise something that never happened, due to the excessive waste the US perpetuates without even being conscious of it. There's something a bit pathetic in all of this business.

1 comment:

  1. Man, they're donated to Romania?!? I guess a membership in European Union is no longer what it used to be ;)

    BTW, I've heard good things about this book "The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade" by Pietra Rivoli -- it follows the life-cycle of t-shirts around the world. I'm probably gonna give it a try given these news.