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Archer Athletics discusses Under Armour sponsorship, encourages student input

Student+athletes+and+members+of+the+Athletics+department+meet+with+Under+Armour+representatives+to+discuss+their+company+becoming+the+official+sponsor+of+Archer+Athletics.+After+addressing+comments+made+by+the+CEO+Kevin+Plank+praising+President+Trump%2C+the+Under+Armour+team+presented+about+their+female+team+sports+line.+
Student athletes and members of the Athletics department meet with Under Armour representatives to discuss their company becoming the official sponsor of Archer Athletics. After addressing comments made by the CEO Kevin Plank praising President Trump, the Under Armour team presented about their female team sports line.

Student athletes and members of the Athletics department meet with Under Armour representatives to discuss their company becoming the official sponsor of Archer Athletics. After addressing comments made by the CEO Kevin Plank praising President Trump, the Under Armour team presented about their female team sports line.

Photo by Laurel Bybee

Photo by Laurel Bybee

Student athletes and members of the Athletics department meet with Under Armour representatives to discuss their company becoming the official sponsor of Archer Athletics. After addressing comments made by the CEO Kevin Plank praising President Trump, the Under Armour team presented about their female team sports line.

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When athletes show up to the court, track, field or pool, Archer Athletics wants the athletes’ uniforms to not only maximize performance, but ensure the brand and logo represent Archer’s values.

On March 3, a group of representatives from Under Armour traveled from the company’s headquarters in Baltimore to discuss potentially becoming the official sponsor of Archer Athletics.

Athletic Director Denny Lennon first established a connection with Under Armour’s Women’s Sales and Team Sports Manager Erin Lensky in Columbus, OH, while both were attending the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four.

Lensky began at Under Armour about seven years ago on the customer service team, then began focusing on Women’s Team Sports about three years ago. Impressed by the company’s merchandise display at the volleyball match, Lennon asked her to come to Los Angeles to discuss a partnership between Under Armour and Archer Athletics.

Under Armour was founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank, the 23-year-old former captain of the football team at the University of Maryland. Plank was frustrated by constantly having to change out of the the cotton t-shirts that bunched up under his gear and wanted to find a fabric that wouldn’t get gross and sweaty, according to their website.

He eventually moved the company out of his grandmother’s basement to Baltimore and settled at their current headquarters in Tide Point.

Photo by Laurel Bybee
During their presentation, the Under Armour representatives brought along samples of their merchandise. According to the representatives, their women’s team sports line is made by females, for females.

However, the company has faced recent controversy. On Feb. 7, Plank praised President Trump’s pro-business philosophy during a CNBC interview.

“To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country,” Plank said in the interview. “People can really grab that opportunity.”

This controversial statement was met with immediate pushback, especially on social media. Plank’s praise for Trump caused celebrities and athletes — including NBA player Stephen Curry, the face of basketball for Under Armour — to reconsider their partnership.

In an interview, Curry said that he would agree with Plank’s description of Trump as an “asset” — but only “if you remove the ‘et.'”

In response to the backlash, Plank wrote an open letter addressed to the company’s hometown of Baltimore that was published as a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun. In the letter, Plank did not mention Trump, but rather stressed his and the company’s values, including those on diversity, immigration and human rights.

“In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent. I want to clarify to our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand,” Plank wrote. “We will continue to stand for equality, diversity and opportunity for all. In a time of division, we aspire to be a force of unity, growth and optimism for our city and our country. I hope we will always make Baltimore proud.”

Given that the majority of Archer students don’t support the current administration, Lennon understood that many athletes would be hesitant be represented by a company whose CEO called Trump an “asset.” However, Lennon still wants students to discuss Plank’s comments and what that would mean for the potential partnership.

“We are a very progressive school, but we are also very open to ideas and discussion,” Lennon said. “It’s important to us that the brand we partner with also fits those kinds of ideas.”

During the meeting with Under Armour representatives, members of the athletics department, a group of student-athletes and Under Armour representatives discussed the partnership, Plank’s comments, their mission and non-profit work.

Under Armour markets their brand in TV commercials as honoring hard work and discipline like in the iconic “We Must Protect This House” ad campaign that premiered in 2003. Protect This House became “a rallying cry for athletes everywhere,” establishing Under Armour as a household name.

The company promotes its products with sponsorship with college athletic teams, professional athletes and celebrities, including Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Phelps and Misty Copeland.

“Our hunger to be better inspires us to do better,” Under Armour’s website reads. “So we proudly give back to those who inspire us with their strength and humble us with their will.”

As part of their “Give Back” program, Under Armour has many philanthropic efforts, including UA Power in Pink, UA Win Global and UA Freedom.

UA Power in Pink celebrates women in fitness, and is a platform to raise awareness about breast health, their UA Win Global program works to empower future athletes and provide more access to youth sports, and UA Freedom supports the efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project to honor and raise awareness and aid wounded veterans and military service members.

Under Armour is currently America’s second biggest sportswear vendor, following Nike, but has made a few recent deals to expand the company. In 2020, the company will become take over for Majestic and Nike, becoming the official uniform sponsor for Major League Baseball.  The company also recently signed a 15 year, $280-million deal with UCLA, creating the largest shoe and apparel sponsorship in college sports history.

“This deal was about geography,” Plank said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It was important for us to plant our flag in L.A.”

After answering questions, the Under Armour team gave a presentation about their female team sportswear and also provided samples of their clothes for the athletes look at and feel.

Senior student-athlete Liadan Solomon ’17 appreciated the fact that Under Armour’s gear is made “by women, for women.”

“Women’s bodies are obviously very varied,” she said. “[Under Armour] is the only brand out there that’s taking that as a priority. I trust that if they’re being made by women, they’re going to be made right for a woman’s body.” 

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She also expressed her frustration with the current uniform program with Adidas.

“Our uniforms are passed down from year to year. They aren’t always the best fit or personally fit to you,” Solomon said. “[Under Armour] may really elevate our sports program overall.”

According to Lennon, the background and values of the company are as important as the actual clothing, so the Athletics department encourages students to read about Under Armour’s history, beliefs, mission and philanthropy to get a better sense of the company.

They also encourage students and athletes to share their opinion about an Archer-Under Armour partnership in this online poll and by leaving comments below. They want the community to be a part of this conversation and decision as well.

The Athletics Department also anticipating hearing pitches in the near future from Nike and Adidas, Archer’s current sponsor.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Archer Athletics discusses Under Armour sponsorship, encourages student input”

  1. Maya Wernick on May 18th, 2017 4:47 pm

    Great article, Cat! Although I am not an athlete, Under Armour seems like a great fit for Archer.

    [Reply]

  2. Sydney Shintani on May 18th, 2017 4:49 pm

    This is such a great article, Cat! I think that having an Under Armor sponsorship would be great for the students in athletics!

    [Reply]

As members of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Oracle welcomes reader comments and debate. We encourage community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, we do allow anonymous comments as long as they are respectful, relevant, and abide by Archer’s Responsible Use Policy. Comments are moderated, but not edited, and will appear once approved.

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