The University of Oregon is located in the shadow of one of the largest athletic apparel and equipment brands in the world – Nike. And because Nike is such a good neighbor, Oregon receives new uniforms every year for most of the athletic teams. Some of the teams, like football, get a new uniform for every game.
Nike is proud of the swoosh that is displayed prominently on the upper left of every uniform piece and outside of every shoe. They should be; it has earned them billions of dollars. The company gives most of the Division 1 universities the uniforms they wear, provided the uniform has the swoosh. That cost is passed down to the collegiate and professional sport fans who purchase the “officially licensed” merchandise. Who isn’t getting any help from Nike? Those colleges which need it the most – the small schools.
My husband has coached at a number of small colleges through his adult life, and every year, almost like clockwork, the topic of new uniforms comes up. He works every deal he can find, watches for sales and overstocks. Sometimes he has to forgo new uniforms because there isn’t enough money in the budget or in the fundraising coffers to purchase the new uniforms. Then it’s up to me to send about a week sewing all the tears from the previous year.
Why can’t Nike have a special fund available to struggling athletic programs? If they would offer reduced prices or special pricing to the smaller schools, it would help with brand loyalty.
Why should Nike care about brand loyalty when it has accrued so much over the years?
Because there is a new sheriff in town, and he goes by the name Under Armour.