Whatever happened to And1?

Whatever happened to And1? August 26, 2022

Image: Martin CD Magazine

So, two confessions here:
1) I had never heard of “And1.” Based on the trailer of the latest episode of Netflix’s series Untold–“The Rise and Fall of And1,” I assumed I’d be watching a documentary about streetball along the lines of the “Stone Cold” episode of Netflix’s series Losers.
2) About two minutes into “The Rise and Fall of And1” I realized that it was some kind of clothing company, and that I was wearing a pair of And1 sandals I had picked up at Walmart a few years ago (in my defense, until that very moment I had thought the brand name was “Andi”). Clearly fashion isn’t my forte. Neither is sports.

Apparently sport documentaries, however, are. At least Untold continues to be interesting and worth paying attention to. In this episode we get a narrative that emphasizes first and second chances and the twin dangers of hubris and apathy. If you’re not familiar with the story, you should watch the documentary. The short version is that And1 tried to compete with Nike and failed, so decided instead to go a different route and promote its merchandise using streetball players and a VHS marketing campaign. This means folks who hadn’t made it into the NBA but were still clearly talented albeit perhaps in nontraditional-but-crowd-pleasing ways. Maybe they couldn’t sink as many baskets as Jordan, but the baskets they did sink were made with style. This included everyone from first time aspirants to folks maybe technically too old to be playing professional sports, buts still able to wow the crowds.

The result was a corporate empire that began to rival that of Nike (Wikipedia tells me it’s still around, though I don’t know if Nike still sees them as a threat). And yet, the early version of the company began to collapse when the first generation of sponsored streetball players realized that they were massively underpaid relative to the amount of money the corporation was making and demanded raises. The corporate powers that be responded by canning them and hiring others (though the ‘hiring others’ part is beyond the scope of the documentary and something I read on Wikipedia, so take it for what it’s worth). Had the corporate heads been less apathetic towards their players, or had the players been less demanding in how they asked for more (this latter by the players’ own admission in the series) it may be that everyone would have come out ahead and this episode either would have had a happier ending or, probably more likely, would not have been made at all.

I’m not a professional basketball player, so I don’t know whether they should have demanded higher pay in the first place. I’m also not a corporate higher-up (or any kind of higher-up), so I don’t know whether they should have paid more attention to the concerns of their players (for all I know they were paying the normal amount of attention for these kinds of employment circumstances). But I do know that both hubris and apathy are serious concerns that Christians should be on the lookout for (especially me–those are both certainly things I’ve been known to struggle with). No one is immune to these sins–including corporate heads, employees, and athletes. This short documentary provides a concise reflection on the dangers of those sins, and is well worth your time. As is the whole series.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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