It may sound like a nice enough thing to do, but a lot of folks think it’s actually harmful and even immoral.
Ever wonder what happens to all those Super Bowl “champions” shirts and hats that are printed up in advance, but for the losing team? In America, probably only folks in places with an excessive tendency towards self-deprecation (like some of the wetter corners of the nordically infested neighborhoods in Seattle) would want to wear loser sports gear.
Given this, World Vision for the past 15 years has been collecting this loser gear left over from the Super Bowl and (according to its website) distributing it to people in poor countries:
World Vision identifies countries and communities in need overseas who will benefit from the gear. This year’s unused Super Bowl merchandise will make its way to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania in the months to come. On average, this equates to about 100 pallets annually — $2 million worth of product — or about 100,000 articles of clothing that, instead of being destroyed, will help children and adults in need.
So don’t be surprised if you see lots of folks in southern Africa, eastern Europe or Central America mistakenly believing the Pittsburgh Steelers won.
As nice, or maybe slightly bizarre but well-intended, as this may sound, many people have a problem with it. If you’re not familiar with the long-running critique of what’s wrong with donating clothing, take a look at this Time magazine story about the 1 Million T-shirts campaign.