Brand loyalty is as old as sports itself. After all, "brand loyalty" is really just a variation of the "home-town team" concept, where fans are encouraged to support their local heroes. In New York, we root for the Yankees or Mets, the Giants or Jets, the Rangers or Islanders (or Devils), and the Knicks or Nets. On the international stage, we root for athletes from the United States.
Why? Because we all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. And we want to be associated with a winner. Our professional teams give us that sense of "community."
Equipment manufacturers understand this phenomenon. I’m closing in on 60, but I still remember the first baseball mitt I earned with my own money (selling greeting cards, door-to-door), a sweet Spaulding signed by Ron Santo. As a diehard Red Sox fan, I never considered rooting for the Cubs, but I guarantee you that I followed Santo’s fortunes in the box scores each day. For my eighth-grade graduation, Mom bought me a Jim Fregosi-model mitt, and I immediately switched allegiances (which is forgivable, seeing I was all of 14 years old).