It’s the classic American success story. A young entrepreneur builds on an idea in a basement and spends the next few years hawking his wares out of the trunk of his car until he earns his first major break. For Kevin Plank, that break was a $17,000 sale of t-shirts with a revolutionary fabric to the football program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Within a few years, Plank’s Under Armour would be outfitting athletes across the country and sports spectrum with his moisture wicking t-shirts and other apparel.
Today, Under Armour sells a complete line of athletic wear from shoes to hunting gear as the company continues its rapid, international expansion. Just last month, USA Today reported that Under Armour would surpass $3 billion in sales for 2014 to make the year one of the company’s best ever.
Of course, January is the time when gyms across the country are at full capacity as New Year’s Resolutions provide a fleeting motivation for the “Average Joes” to get back in shape. And, in case sweaters weren’t exactly on the Christmas wish list, most retailers are happy to allow returns for store credit and exchanges. That’s good news for the conservative workout enthusiast looking to update the wardrobe during this time of year, as he or she might find Under Armour’s political positions more appealing than the liberalism of some of its competitors. The same can be said for hunters, as duck hunting season is in full swing across many states and Under Armour does produce moisture wicking camouflaged clothing as well.
This matters because sporting goods giants Nike and Adidas have aggressively engaged in partnerships with liberal organizations advocating on a range of issues from cap-and-trade to the expansion of abortion services. Both of these corporations are members of the liberal environmental group Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy and Adidas maintains an active partnership with Greenpeace. Nike matches employee gifts to Planned Parenthood and Adidas has financially supported Marie Stopes International, another abortion provider on a global scale.
Sometimes it’s easy to brush off such activity as “business as usual” for corporations trying to enhance public relations on a global scale. After all, Nike has faced a full-on assault from leftists for its overseas manufacturing practices. But Nike has also taken steps to assertively engage in the marriage debate by signing an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court advocating for the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act. As a company, Nike has also publicly supported same-sex marriage legislation in Oregon and Washington.
Rags-to-riches stories are part of the American fabric. Similar to Under Armour, Phil Knight founded Nike by selling shoes out of the back of his car at track meets across the Northwest. Yet, Under Armour’s success shows that corporations need not be beholden to liberal groups. Under Armour has remained relatively neutral from a public policy standpoint and is already the second largest sportswear brand in America.
Given last month’s news, it’s obvious that consumers have rewarded Under Armour’s neutrality as 2014’s revenues for the company come on the heels of the Duck Commander controversy. Multiple companies fell over themselves to distance themselves from Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality. Instead of publicly taking a position on the issue, however, Under Armour saw the necessity of maintaining a good business relationship. Some sources even reported that the company received an overwhelming show of support from Robertson fans along with pledges of future business.
The weight rooms might be full this week and maybe the dedicated exercise enthusiast deserves a bit of a break from the gym until the New Year’s resolution crowd thins out. If last year’s equipment has seen better days, the conservative athlete might just take a few days off to restock and consider what his or her money actually supports.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.