For the longest time lacrosse players and fans like myself have looked for validation, that the sport we play and admire is worthy of press and should be broadcasted more frequently as it is the fastest growing sport in the United States. In fact, according to US Lacrosse, the national governing body of lacrosse, youth participation in the sport has grown over 500% since 1999 to nearly 250,000, and there are now an estimated 200,000 high school players. So when I heard the news that they were going to make a movie about lacrosse, titled Crooked Arrows and sponsored exclusively by Reebok, I admit I was excited. But then I wondered, “What if this thing falls flat on its face? And how will this decision affect Reebok?”
On a recent podcast, J. Todd Harris, the movie’s producer, described Crooked Arrows as a “very inspirational, fun and dramatic movie about the classic sports underdog paradigm …that takes place on a Native American reservation.” The film’s website goes on to reveals the plot, as a “coach and [his] team climb an uphill battle to the state championship finals against their privileged prep school rivals…ignited by their heritage and believing in their newfound potential, will they win?”
The big headline for me in all of this is that Reebok is sponsoring Crooked Arrows. For anyone acquainted with the sport of lacrosse, this is a particularly interesting sponsorship since Reebok is not a top-of-mind brand when it comes to lacrosse. A newcomer to the lacrosse equipment and apparel industry, with this project Reebok will try to enter a highly saturated market place dominated by big players like Brine, STX and Warrior by showcasing their new equipment throughout the movie. And since they usually compete with Nike and Adidas across other major sports categories, lacrosse presents a unique opportunity for Reebok to emerge as a major competitor.
While the exact numbers are hard to come by, Lacrosse Playground says that Reebok is providing enough “financial support [to] guarantee the movie will be seen in at least 250 theaters in 2011.”
Perhaps this idea does have some merit. After all, if you think about it every sport has its own movie – basketball has Hoosiers, baseball has Bull Durham, hockey has Mighty Ducks, heck even bobsledding has Cool Runnings. And it’s this mindset precisely that has Reebok so excited to sponsor Crooked Arrows. Just as Easton used the Mickey Ducks movie franchise to put their company on the map in the hockey industry, Reebok hopes to do the same in the lacrosse industry.
So the questions that remains – will Reebok be able to mimic Easton’s success, or will they fail?
Reebok has one chance to make an impact, and if it’s not up to par they will never succeed in the lacrosse category. From Reebok’s perspective, nothing like this has ever been attempted in the lacrosse equipment and apparel segment, and while it translated into success for Easton, the same might not be true for Reebok. Since Reebok is not firmly established in the lacrosse industry, they could completely fall apart if the movie is unsuccessful; but if it is a success, they could emerge as one of the dominant players and steal market share from the major players.
Personally, the lacrosse fan in me wants nothing more than to see this movie succeed and increase respect for the sport of lacrosse that has long been overdue. The branded entertainment novice in me, however, sees this as a huge leap of faith on Reebok’s behalf. But I suppose they don’t have much to lose at this point, and we’ll have to wait and see until after it premieres in 2011 to see if Reebok was ingenious or just plain dumb.