Officials of USA Gymnastics aren't amused by an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt that mocks their sport and have asked the company to pull the product from its shelves and on-line store. In the meantime, they're encouraging gymnastics supporters to "reconsider their support" of the youth-oriented chain and the products it sells.
The shirt at issue depicts a male gymnast performing on the still rings alongside the phrase, "L is for Loser." And it prompted a sternly worded letter from Bob Colarossi, president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics, in which he extolled the virtues of gymnastics and cited such celebrities as Tom Cruise, Britney Spears and Steve McNair as having benefited from its training.
"No individual, regardless of race, gender, age, intelligence or athletic ability, can or should be deemed a loser," Colarossi wrote to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries in a letter released to the media yesterday. "USA Gymnastics is seeking the immediate removal of the item from your stores and on-line store. Pending your response, USA Gymnastics will encourage the more than 4 million gymnastics participants, their families and friends, sponsors and fans of USA Gymnastics, and proponents of all sports, to reconsider their support of A&F's corporate policies and retail products that promote such ideals."
It's hardly the company's first controversy. Among its products and marketing initiatives that have triggered boycotts: a risque winter catalog featuring scantily clad teenagers in provocative poses; thongs for children; and T-shirts with demeaning caricatures of Asians. Officials at Abercrombie & Fitch could not be reached to comment.
-- Liz Clarke