Why Is It So Hard to Find Chicago Sky WNBA Championship Gear?
The Chicago Sky just won the WNBA championship, but you might not know that if you get your sports cues from merchandise.
Unlike when other hometown teams have won their leagues' biggest trophies, Chicago retailers are saying that there’s a shortage of Sky championship gear.
“Merchandise and shirts and all that type of stuff is such an important part of fandom,” Brian Panganiban, who runs a Sky social media fan page, said, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Some retail store owners say that the holdup is due to pandemic-related supply chain shortages.
“There’s been demand all year that they’ve been playing, it’s just companies getting back to us and then the shortage issues with everything going on in this world,” one store owner told the Sun Times.
Another attributed some of the blame to apparel vendors who have been lacking in communication in regards to Sky merchandise availability.
“I would honestly say the companies dropped the ball,” Dan Hardman, manager of Pro Jersey Sports in Bolingbrook, Ill., told the Chicago Sun Times. “I can turn around and get a White Sox jersey in a heartbeat, but when it comes down to WNBA, there’s really only been maybe two companies that have even sent an email.”
Fans search in vain for Chicago Sky merchandise: ‘When a team wins the Super Bowl, they have it. They’re doing the ladies a disservice here.’ https://t.co/pbLlQyuPdy
— Kim Bellware (@bellwak) October 19, 2021
Hardman added that if he placed an order now for Sky merchandise, he likely wouldn’t have it in stock until around Christmas, long after the initial euphoria of the win fades.
For a WNBA team, which doesn’t receive the same level of attention as its men’s basketball counterpart in the NBA, branding surrounding something like this is crucial to drive more fans. If Chicago basketball lovers become more aware that a championship-caliber team is playing in their city, they might become more invested next season.
But even for the time being, store owners say they receive requests for Sky merchandise on a daily basis, meaning the supply chain just isn’t supporting the demand that exists.
The Sky is the limit 📈
— The GIST USA (@thegistusa) October 20, 2021
The WNBA has been making general pushes to try to boost its own popularity among basketball fans. At the beginning of this season, the league released a QR code sweatshirt that was meant to create hype around the league and women’s sports overall.
Since that release, there have been positive steps in the push for greater representation of women’s sports in media, with the NCAA allowing the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament to use the “March Madness” branding it historically reserved for the men’s tournament.
Whether the shortage of Sky championship merchandise is just due to supply chain craziness or apparel license-holders dropping the ball, it’s clear that the Chicago Sky didn't get its merchandising due here. And that’s a shame.