Marketing & Sponsorships

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Event Owners Beware: Counterfeit Merchandise, Tournament T-Shirt Scams Growing Exponentially

6 Sep, 2017

By: Michael Popke
How to Combat the Problem, Event by Event

Scams aren’t new, but a new variation has been making its presence known in sports events. An Arizona-based company began contacting Evanston, Illinois, businesses, offering to sell them ads that would appear on the back of T-shirts to be distributed free Evanston Township High School Wildcats sports events.

Only one problem, though: the school had never authorized anything.

“Definitely a scam,” ETHS athletic director Chris Livatino told EvanstonNow.com about the efforts of T.K.O. Sports in Fort Mohave, Arizona, adding that he never even been approached by the company in the first place.

According to the Aug. 21 article:

When a caller who identified himself as Aaron Solomon, production manager at T.K.O. Sports, contacted Evanston Now by phone last week, we asked him who authorized the arrangement he claimed to have with the school.

He said it was someone named “Pam,” and promised to email us a copy of TKO’s agreement with ETHS.

So far, that promised email hasn’t arrived.

A similar story emerged out of Cornelius, North Carolina, in early August, when Hough High School officials warned area businesses about representatives from Boost Sports, a Texas company, selling school T-shirts, banners and sponsorships.

“It is a lie from start to finish,” Richard Colven, president of Hough High’s Athletic Club, told WSOC-TV, adding that Boost Sports isn’t even using the correct image of Hough’s Husky mascot. “They are taking advantage of that because people want to help out. People want to get their names involved with local schools and people want to help the students.”

Local businesses everywhere should check with athletic directors before committing to purchase advertising or other forms of sponsorship from companies claiming to work on a school’s behalf. Make sure no money changes hands, either.

“Counterfeiting in the sports world, whether it’s of logo merchandise such as T-shirts, hats or souvenir jerseys, or of sporting equipment itself, is a problem that is growing exponentially,” Sports Destination Management magazine reported in December 2015. “Counterfeiting is defined as the production of replica materials, which are then passed off as the genuine article, and sold at bargain-basement prices.”

In that article, we spelled out five reasons why sports planners, particularly those planning youth or amateur events, should care about apparel counterfeiting. Those reasons are worth repeating here:

1. It takes money away from legitimate vendors, including you.

2. It creates and perpetuates a marketplace of inferior and unsafe products.

3. It hurts American manufacturing.

4. It hurts workers.

5. It’s a crime.

So, how can sports planners help? Source merchandise from reputable domestic vendors with established track records. Keep an eye on sales that might be going on prior to, during or after the event by unauthorized individuals, and then report those incidents to trade associations serving the sports industry. More of them now provide resources to help prevent counterfeit merchandise.

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