As the Super Bowl approaches, now may be a better time than ever to discuss how sports, particularly football, shape and create our world’s vision and influence our lives. In other words, let us discuss and evaluate the impact of sports merchandise on our lives.
Being a fan of a specific football team is much more than simply enjoying watching your favorite team win the trophy. It’s something that could form our identity and become a marker for others.
First, some points on the meaning and history of such a word as “merchandise.” Merch, or merchandise, is clothing and all kinds of things with brand symbols (whether a multinational corporation, an indie musician, or a favorite football team) that have become both a favorite promotional tool and a source of income for them.
The history of merch is rooted in the 1960s and music, when rock bands, driving around America on endless tours, started selling T-shirts with their logos to their loyal fans. Since then, clothing with the symbols of their idols has become permanently embedded in the closets of fans. The item of clothing is just an item until the name of the idol is written on it.
When a favorite band or football team is printed on a T-shirt, it becomes an artifact, carrying symbols, expressing a point of view, and belonging to a specific subculture. People tend to buy merch at matches as memorable souvenirs. And the end of the season is a great time to launch a new line of merchandise, especially if it will be limited to the event.
For companies and teams, it means money… huge money, by the way. Analysts estimate that sports merchandise generates an annual revenue of $5.3 billion in the United States alone.
Concerning the NFL, a football league has built a powerful brand around its main product, football. In 2017, the league reported $14 billion in overall revenue. The majority of it is generated by ticket sales and distribution agreements with national and international broadcasting companies, but branded apparel and merchandise sales also contribute significantly. Nearly $2 billion was generated by sponsorships, licensing, and merchandise, which includes NFL-branded items such as jerseys and drinkware sold online and in stores by licensees.
This success certainly has something to do with the way fans choose to represent their favorite team. It’s incredibly common for people to wear the team’s branded hoodies, hats, and T-shirts throughout the week, not just on game day.
All of this is helping to turn the NFL into a lifestyle brand, and the league is doing everything it can to capitalize on its popularity on and off the field.
The usual souvenir merchandise is not enough. For example, the site eyesonsport.com offers, in addition to the standard T-shirts, jerseys, cups, badges, and trinkets, a practically unique option to create a picture of your favorite team or quarterback standing right next to you.
The success of music or sports merchandise seems to be a common thing. American satirists never tire of making jokes about 25-year-olds in Ramones T-shirts who have never heard a single song by the punk band, and their peers in Nirvana T-shirts who know only the chorus of “SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT.” The great thing about NFL merchandise is that right now, it’s difficult to meet someone wearing Brady’s or Mahomes’ number and team logo without being a true fan. Things could, however, change in the future.