Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Innings. Under Armour is taking a gamble on Steph Curry as their brand flounders. The MLB, in the midst of a busy offseason, is looking to condense its minor league system and reorganize unaffiliated leagues.
Under Armour has a significant amount of bad press this year as it has worked to break contracts with UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of Cincinnati. The company has struggled during the pandemic and has the unfortunate title of being the number one brand that teens no longer wear.
To combat these issues, Under Armour is leveraging its partnership with Steph Curry to build out a competitor to Nike’s “Jordan Brand.” The “Curry Brand” will start with shoes and a clothing line. The brand will also look to make a difference in the Oakland Unified School District by partnering with the Positive Coaching Alliance to bring more trained coaches to middle schools in Oakland.
This new brand has a long way to go when competing with the “Jordan Brand.” The “Jordan Brand” is responsible for roughly $3.5 billion in revenue while the entire Under Armour brand generates $5.3 billion in revenue.
Certain themes from the sports world have continued to emerge throughout the year such as betting and the use of athletes’ names, images, and likenesses. Extra Innings has provided in-depth coverage of this issue and how it will revolutionize the way college athletes are viewed and compensated.
One aspect of the debate that has not been widely discussed is that the NCAA does not regulate cheer teams and there are no restrictions on who may sponsor these cheerleaders. The NYT article describes highschool age girls hiring agents and getting paid to post on their social media channels. Compared to other athletes, the girls who are sponsored and want to cheer in college face no eligibility issues. It is interesting to juxtapose the treatment of football players with the treatment of cheerleaders; both perform for the same university, on the same field, and often at the same time, yet the football players face tremendous eligibility issues should they receive sponsorship benefits.
Notable Information From the Sports World:
MLB Sponsorships: Major League Baseball sent out a request for proposal to numerous marketing agencies asking about pricing for sleeve patches and helmet decals for additional advertising and cash influx. These additions could come at the expense of fans who generally dislike any change to MLB jerseys. For example, there was fierce opposition when Nike added its swoosh to jerseys.
MLB Development League: The MLB is creating a new wood bat league for draft-eligible high school, college, and junior college players. Teams will be located in towns that lost minor league teams due to the MiLB’s contraction this summer. This new league is designed to create “unprecedented access and visibility” for the next generation of baseball players.
USWNT: The US Soccer Federation has reached a settlement with the Women’s National Team regarding their complaint of unequal treatment. This is important for the WNT as it validates their claim that the Men’s team receives benefits that weren’t afforded to the WNT.
Tottenham Hotspur: Tottenham has made a concerted effort to reduce their carbon footprint which is inconsistent with their jersey sponsor being a major stakeholder in coal companies. This association is the most recent reminder for clubs to align themselves with partners who have similar goals so they avoid bad publicity, which damages the team’s reputation and the goodwill of the fan base.