The Top Sports Brands race is on! For the past few years we’ve all heard rumors but now its official: Adidas, Nike and Reebok are all making considerable efforts to get into the game. While they all want a part of the lacrosse pie, each brand is employing different strategies on their quest for lax domination.
For the moment, Reebok’s focus is on the NLL. This move makes sense since they picked up Chad Wittman as Head of Reebok Lacrosse. Whittman used to work with Harrow and is well connected in the Box Lax world.
Nike seems to be moving towards the youth market. This strategy is different than Reebok but is smart as well because Nike has cache with youngsters and if you can hook them early, they might stay loyal for life.
I can’t seem to get a grip on where Adidas will fall into play but if I had to guess I would say they will go for the college ranks where they can really market using big time, big name schools (and proven commodities!) like Notre Dame and Michigan.
I have yet to hear any major names sign with Adidas or Nike and haven’t seen a ton of compelling advertising from either of them. Their heads look pretty good, but it is hard to equate real quality just from pictures. I have only seen ONE Adidas head used in play by a 40 year old guy and NO Nike products beyond shoes and shorts.
I have seen some Reebok gloves here and there, some with NLL colors, and some Reebok pads as well. All reviews so far have been positive for the most part. Unlike the other big two, Reebok has had some success in pulling big name players to their sponsor lineup. Reebok already has Matt Alrich, Brodie Merrill and Mark Steenhuis on their roster. Rumors are flying that a Zach Greer signing is iminent. You can see from their current roster that Chad Wittman has the ‘Bok laser focused on indoor lax but two of those guys (Merrill and Alrich) are also outdoor stars as well. A Greer signing would be big because he is clearly going to be a great MLL and NLL player for years to come.
Reebok is also whipping out some pretty sweet custom stuff. Again, I can’t vouch for the quality of the product but as you can see in this post, the hounds-tooth dyed heads are pretty darn sweet looking at the very least. The top level gloves Reebok offers are excellent (I have actually seen and used those) and the padding looks great and has a real hockey feel to it protection-wise.
I’m curious to see where these Top Sports Brands companies take the game and where they focus their marketing efforts. Nike is definitely all about the kids and looking to the future. This is especially evident in their sponsorship of so many lacrosse camps around the country. Adidas is still a big question mark for me but I would venture a guess that in October and November, we will see a big push. They have yet to really make a move and at that point is is now or never.
Where are these big companies heading? How will they affect the game? Will they innovate or just replicate what is on the market now? Can they pull big name stars over to endorse their products? Do they even need big name players?
In the next couple of months, and then for the next couple of years, we will all find out together. My feeling is that unless the current lacrosse companies really step their game up in product quality and lower pricing, they will lose out to the big boys.
As an aside, did you know that no one makes lacrosse gear in North America other than Mohawk International Lacrosse? That’s right, everyone goes to China for their lacrosse gear. Makes total sense with this being the first American sport and all. Check out Mohawk if you have a chance. Their sticks can take an ABSOLUTE BEATING and be no worse for the wear. Excellent for Box Lax or D-men who throw wood.