Typically, as you may be aware, all of the null-and-void merchandise that follows failed presidential campaigns and dashed Super Bowl hopes tends to be shipped en masse to the Third World, to developing countries in need of basic goods like clothing. With a whopper of a World Series behind us, there's a hell of a lot of Indians' championship gear that will not be used here in the States. Surely there are a few families in the world who could use a couple extra T-shirts, yeah?
Probably. But the MLB top brass is electing to simply destroy the Tribe merch this year and not donate the clothing to, e.g., the Christian nonprofit World Vision, which works to reduce poverty and its effects around the world. (Last year, Mets World Series gear was donated via World Vision.)
“In past years we have used World Vision, but we have moved our policy to destroying the merchandise,” MLB’s Matt Bourne told HuffPost
. “The reason is to protect the team from inaccurate merchandise being available or visible in the general marketplace.”
Protect the team?
Why now, all of the sudden?
wonders whether the use of an unequivocally racist symbol
on team gear may have affected the league's thinking process this year.)
When pressed on the issue of Western donations destabilizing local clothing industries, Bourne demurred, saying that he “wouldn’t attribute it to that.”
Let's take a detour, even though the league won't:
In 2014, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda (the East African Community) collectively received more than $300 million worth of secondhand clothing from counties like the U.S. It was another bustling year for the secondhand textile market, which flows through free-trade agreements with ease and results in mountains of clothing dumped through the developing world. One effect: Local clothing producers and merchants can't compete. The cycle of dependence on the crumbs of developed nations continues.
For more on that, here's Andrew Brooks from the Guardian
After the end of colonialism the plan was for Africans to produce their own clothes and other basic goods to help industrialise and develop economies as happened in China and South Korea. Yet in the 1980s and 1990s, clothing industries declined and imports of used clothes increased.
African leaders were forced to liberalise their economies under political pressure from banks and governments in the west who had earlier lent them money, and to whom they owed massive interest repayments. Liberal economic reforms to the market meant the removal of barriers to trade, such as import taxes and quotas, which had protected new factories. Once fragile economies were open to imports – like cheap second-hand clothes – there was a wholesale collapse of vast swathes of local industry. Cheaper imported goods flooded African markets and workers in clothing factories lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, the debt crises as well as the long-term decline in the price of agricultural products, such as cotton, led to falling incomes across the continent. One of the sad ironies of today’s globalised economy is that many cotton farmers and ex-factory workers in countries such as Zambia are now too poor to afford any clothes other than imported second-hand ones from the west, whereas 30 or 40 years ago they could buy locally produced new clothes.
All of which is worth knowing and understanding, even though the MLB officially isn't citing any of that. Maybe, on this broad scale, it's best for the league to pursue different paths for the merchandise that won't be sold. (Local charities in the city of the losing team?)
At the end of the day, though, the league seems solely concerned with "protecting the team," after all. Watch closely to how the league treats the 2017 World Series aftermath, especially if a team other than the Indians ends up losing the October Classic.
It's unclear how
the MLB will "destroy" the merchandise.