Slate's Explainer: Rose Bowl Shirts Headed to Haiti

Slate senior editor Andy Bowers explains what will happen to the thousands of USC Rose Bowl championship T-shirts merchants had hoped to start selling after Wednesday night's big game. The Trojans lost to the University of Texas Longhorns in an exciting finish capped by a rushing touchdown by Texas' quarterback in the final seconds.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Fans at the University of Texas are celebrating their rousing victory in last night's Rose Bowl, which people around this office, anyway, are calling the best college game they ever saw. Texas beat USC 41-to-38; the lead kept changing hands right up until the last 20 seconds. So Texas is now the national champion. Immediately after the game, its players showed off championship hats and T-shirts with their names. But what happens to the stuff that gets printed up for the team that then loses the championship game? That's a question for the explainer term at the online magazine Slate. And here with the answer is Slate's Andy Bowers.

ANDY BOWERS reporting:

It gets shredded or shipped away. The fate of the incorrect merchandize depends on the sport and the controlling organization. Two different sets of locker room memorabilia get printed only if a game is a one-shot deal, like the Rose Bowl or the Super Bowl, or if a series comes down to the final game.

Each league has its own policy. Major league baseball prints up victory merchandize in three phrases: for each team's division and wild card winners, for each pennant winner and for the World Series champs. Baseball officials print fewer than 200 sets of hats and shirts per event. If they do have to produce merchandise for both teams, like when the World Series is tied three-to-three, the losing team's shirts and hats get shredded to avoid confusion and embarrassment.

Other leagues donate the extra apparel. The National Football League prepares approximately 300 sets of merchandize for each conference championship winner and for the Super Bowl victor. That means there will be at least 900 hats and shirts commemorating a win that didn't happen. The NFL donates that merchandise to World Vision, a charity that passes the apparel to people in impoverished, war-torn or otherwise needy countries. The NBA donates incorrect merchandise to its own Basketball Without Borders program. Recent recipients of the loser's garb include Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.

CHADWICK: Andy Bowers is a Slate senior editor, and that explainer was compiled by Torie Bosch.

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