- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Coach Cal is on a mission to help," the ad copy reads. "Coach Cal's new line is designed for athletes, businessmen, women and fans everywhere."
Yep: That's the introduction to the “Coach John Calipari Refuse to Lose to Lose Signature Series,” which is the real, actual, somehow-not-totally-made-up name for Calipari's new clothing line, announced by the man himself on Twitter Monday morning. Partnering with apparel company ST Brands, Calipari unveiled a line of ostensible performance attire pocked by a rather large logo, which reads "Coach John Calipari Signature Series" with a overlaid signature and "#RTL."
In typical Calipari style, the always-be-closing, hashtagging salesmanship is coupled with a legitimately philanthropic aim. Partial proceeds from each sold shirt will go to the Calipari Foundation, through which Calipari has donated millions to disaster relief and local charitable organizations in Lexington and Memphis. On Twitter, Calipari said "the best news of this announcement is why we're doing it: charity."
Not only are the charitable aims admirable; they also make it a little bit more difficult for yours truly to really poke fun at these shirts. But they are kind of funny though, right? That logo is basically the unsubtle cousin of the giant moose logos on those old Abercrombie polos you used to wear in high school. I also have no idea what "Refuse to Lose" has to do with nylon blend workout shirts, but maybe in the current hashtag-brand climate it doesn't actually have to mean anything? To each his own. Judging from my own experience, Kentucky fans have an insatiable appetite for Big Blue gear. That's another reason these exist, of course: They'll sell.
I have just a couple of questions: What about businesswomen? Women athletes? Athletes who are also fans? Do these categories cross over? If you're a female athlete who works in business, but you also consider yourself a fan, are these shirts for you? If you're a man who does not do "business" -- let's say you primarily play high-stakes bingo for a living -- are you cool to place an order? Do you have to provide proof of employment when buying a shirt? Do businessmen get a discount, sort of like Brooks Brothers? Did Pete Carroll ever make a Win Forever T-shirt? If not, why not? See? So many questions!