Sunday night, the New York (Football) Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys for the 2011 NFC East Championship. As is a newfangled popular custom with professional sports teams on the verge of a championship, the Giants and the NFL make sure to have championship gear and merchandise available IMMEDIATELY after the contests so the gear can be sold right away to game-attending fans, available for purchase online, and worn by the title-winning players on the field after the game.
However, a problem presents itself here: no one knew who the champion was going to be. (That’s why they play the game!)
So with the inability to accurately predict the future, the teams and the NFL have championship merchandise for each team printed before the game. That means that somewhere in the confines of the stadium there are two sets of shirts/hats/gear – one depicting the Giants as division champions, the other celebrating the Cowboys. And one of these sets will be destroyed.*
So the Cowboys shirt above? You’ll never see it, but it does in fact exist. When the Giants won, the boxes with the Cowboys gear was hidden away, to be disposed of. Thousands of shirts, hundreds of hats, all to be thrown away.
But does it have to be that way? Must teams create full sets of merchandise for each team before the game even starts?
It appears to me that a significant amount of wasted merchandise (gear created for the teams that DON’T win, thereby making their gear false) could be prevented with better planning of logistics, manufacturing, and assembly.
So what all was wasted with this process? Not only was the raw material (shirts, iron-ons, hats, inks, dyes, thread, etc.) used on defective product, but also the time needed to create the items (manufacture of blank shirts and iron-ons, time taken to press the iron-ons, folding and packaging) and transportation of goods from suppliers to point of use, and space consumed by the footprint of inventory.
What could the teams and the NFL done to prevent the waste from occurring?
I’m not sure if teams and leagues have sought ways to make this process better, but I’m guessing that the price points teams realize by making products overseas tend to trump trying to actually see the costs of “invisible” wasteful activities. There are lots of opportunities to save time and money by doing things slightly different.
(* – That’s what leagues used to do with “defective” merchandise; those shirts would never see the light of day. Now teams donate those shirts to third world countries because of such significant public backlash that teams were being wasteful while so many people in the world struggle to afford clothing.)