Earlier this month, we announced a new partnership with a sporting team. Nothing unusual in that. Brands like SKINS do it all the time.
But this particular announcement raised some proverbial eyebrows because of the identity of the sporting team. Essendon Football Club. (‘Football’ as in Australian Rules football, not the round-ball game).
For Australian readers, you will know the club has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years. For other readers, may I suggest you have a read of this Wikipedia entry as it gives a pretty good overview of what the controversy surrounding Essendon Footy Club is all about.
So the question asked of SKINS in respect of the partnership with Essendon is this: with everything we’ve done, said and written – why is SKINS supporting an elite sporting team that has been found guilty of doping, copped significant fines and received the most severe player bans with 34 players being wiped out for two years?
It’s all about redemption.
At SKINS, we call out bad sports, bad sportsmanship and bad sporting organisations – but we’re also prepared to give individuals, sporting teams and even organisations an opportunity to make things right.
I’ve met with the people at Essendon Football Club, and I was impressed with what they’re doing with their ‘Comeback Story’. Not only have they admitted to what they did wrong and accepted the consequences, but they’re also committed to getting it right within their own club and, importantly, for their sport. They’ve changed almost all personnel at the club including the board, senior management and coaching staff and are intent on building the Essendon community through inclusivity and performance.
There is no better current example of this than their captain, Jobe Watson, handing back the prestigious Brownlow Medal for the AFL’s ‘best and fairest’ that he won in 2012. The Brownlow is highly prized by Aussie Rules footballers. This was an entirely voluntary act, as it’s unsure whether the AFL had the power to take back the Medal. It would have been a very tough, personal decision.
I am proud for SKINS to support Essendon Footy Club and to help them shape their comeback and for Essendon to join us in our goal of changing the world through sport. Ultimately, all of us inspire others not by how we deal with everything that’s easy in our lives, but how we deal with the things that are not; how you get back up and keep going.
After all, that’s what sport is about.