Why Aren't More Pro Sports Teams Giving Away Branded Masks as Game Promos?
After a year of empty seats, sports are back, with a few stipulations in most cities. Most ballparks and arenas aren’t filled to capacity, and the majority have mask mandates in place, meaning if you aren’t actively eating or drinking, you’d better mask up.
We wrote about how some of the first fan giveaways for baseball’s Opening Day were a little lackluster—plenty of magnetic calendars which, while useful, didn’t fully convey the excitement of fans returning.
After a few weeks of the regular season, we noticed another, shall we say, non-trend in professional sports: Why are so few teams giving out branded masks?
If fans need to wear masks to go to games, it seems like a no-brainer that teams would give out a branded mask, just like they would an opening day T-shirt, to not only create a sense of unity throughout the stands for the lucky few in attendance, but also to give them a means of going to the game safely. And it’s not like masks have disappeared in the rest of our public lives, for the most part. People still wear masks to places like the grocery store, so having a branded mask with their favorite team on it has value beyond the nosebleed seats.
We really started thinking about this after seeing that the Washington Capitals gave out branded masks, sponsored by MedStar Health, this past Tuesday. It was the first time fans could watch the Caps in the Capital One Arena since last year.
The Washington Capitals will be handing out free team-branded masks to all fans in attendance for Tuesday's game.
The Caps-Islanders game will be the first hockey game in DC with fans since March 2020 when the pandemic first began. https://t.co/a59rY8ztv5
— RMNB (@russianmachine) April 26, 2021
That’s what we’re talking about when we say those Opening Day giveaways didn’t quite capture the moment like they could. This feels like a layup (to mix our sports metaphors).
Some MLB teams did mask giveaways, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates, who gave out masks in addition to magnetic schedules for their home-opener series against the Cubs. The New York Mets gave out Mets-branded masks for their April 10 and 11 games against the Marlins. And another Washington, D.C. team, the Wizards, had a mask giveaway for a late April game.
As far as we could tell, there wasn't much outside of those.
If you ask us, every team should have done this. They had quite a while to plan. Yes, there was plenty of uncertainty, which is something we hypothesized when we wrote about the plentiful magnet calendars. But, face masks are pretty much the go-to promo item these days, even if they're not selling like they did a few months ago.
It’s cool that a few teams are getting in on it, but you’d think this would be more common throughout every team letting fans back in the stadiums. It’s likely mask rules will continue into the fall, too, so we’ll see what NFL teams do for their first games of the season.