For many of us, it’s fun and games. Professional and amateur sport is about watching the games, enjoying the amazing athletic performances, the sense of drama, feeling the ecstasy of victory, and experiencing the agony of defeat. For people like Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and many others, it’s much more. It’s money. It’s jobs. It’s supporting a way of life.
Plank announced that shoe sales of the Curry 3 did not meet expectations. Most of us see a headline like that and shrug our shoulders. They didn’t sell as many shoes as they thought they might, oh well. Is it that big a deal? It is.
I think by and large people don’t understand how important the corporate world is to sports as we know them and thus to us, even those of us who don’t like sports at all. Under Armour sells a lot of shoes, it’s true. What’s amazing is how far the tendrils spread from this simple fact. How many people are affected by the sale of these shoes. How missing this mark potentially affects these people.
Under Armour has exclusive apparel contracts with any number of colleges including Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Auburn, and others. This means the company pays tens of millions of dollars to the colleges so that athletes at the schools will only wear Under Armour apparel. The colleges use this money to build facilities, give bonuses to highly sought after coaches, pay professors, equip classrooms, and in countless other ways.
Under Armour will also provide apparel for all Major League Baseball teams starting in 2020. Again, they will pay huge amounts of money for the right to do so. MLB will use the money to transport players to various charity events, build new stadiums, pay the salary of vendors, and who knows how many other things.
Under Armour essentially created an entire youth basketball league, the UAA, in order to promote their products. These leagues employ many coaches and allow young players to travel the country showing off their skill for college coaches, agents, and many others.
Under Armour sponsors teams in countries around the world in a variety of sporting endeavors. In addition, they pay enormous amounts for various advertising campaigns. This money flows to media content providers who, in turn, pay teams enormous sums for the right to broadcast games. Teams hire sportscasters, newscasters, and others with this money.
Do you work for a toilet paper company that has a contract with a local stadium? Then part of your salary is paid for by apparel companies like Under Armour.
So, when Under Armour announces they didn’t sell as many shoes as they expected, that they now have an enormous inventory supply, that they don’t have as much money as they thought they would have; well that has a ripple effect on many people.
I’m not saying Under Armour is going out of business or that another apparel company wouldn’t fill the void if they did. What I am saying is athletics and our desire to see people playing the games contributes far more financially to your world than you might imagine.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.