Between the Lines: Merch Madness

Another crazy season of basketball has concluded. There were a lot of “firsts” for many teams: South Carolina women’s basketball team celebrated their first national championship; UConn women’s basketball team faced their first loss in 111-straight games; South Carolina men’s basketball team made it to their first Final Four (and Elite Eight…and Sweet Sixteen…); and Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team appeared in their first NCAA Championship game. How do you commemorate all of this excitement? A t-shirt of course.

The Winners

Let’s talk about Carolina basketball. And this time, not North Carolina. The South Carolina Gamecocks were one of the most surprising stories—both for men’s and women’s basketball. Men’s basketball upset the Duke Blue Devils and merchandise sales soared by 320 percent. By the time they made it to Phoenix for the Final Four, merchandise sales increased by 660 percent, trailing only behind Gonzaga. Read more ≥≥

The Almost Winners

A few seconds can change everything in basketball, including the t-shirts. Following the loss to Villanova last year, Genny Wrenn, the manager at a popular Chapel Hill store, reported that the loss cost her store nearly $50,000 in (potential?) revenue. While Carolina fans are donning their championship t-shirts this year, the boxes of championship t-shirts at the Zag Shop will stay packed. According to Fanatics, the Bulldog’s merchandise sales jumped over 800% after making the Final Four. It certainly leaves a “what if” sentiment among Gonzaga retailers. Read More ≥≥

The Dilemma

The conversation that won’t be going away any time soon—and only gets magnified during championship games—is the controversial rule barring student-athletes from monetarily profiting from their athletic success. Minutes after UNC captured their sixth national championship title, the NCAA quickly blasted out an email that included a link to their Championship Store filled with Carolina gear. Also included in the email? A photograph of Joel Berry, Luke Maye, and Kennedy Meeks. Some are raising their eyebrows, criticizing the NCAA for player image and likeness. Read More ≥≥

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