10 Winning Sports Gifts

Merchandising is a key component of the $750 billion sports and entertainment business—and never more so than at this time of year. Sports licensed goods alone account for an $11 billion slice of the sports industry pie, according to The Licensing Letter and other sources. Add in $26 billion worth of sporting goods sales (per NPD Group), and the two categories combined represent close to 19% of the total sports sector. This holiday season, according to the National Retail Foundation, the average American shopper is expected to spend $682.74 on gifts. This represents a 3% decline from 2008, but a significant sum nonetheless. The association estimates that more shoppers moved the turnstiles on Black Friday this year than last—about 195 million people braved stores or shopped online, up from 172 million in 2008, and spent about $41.2 billion in total ($595 million of that online). Accordingly, we present the sixth annual "Horrow Hot 10" list of holiday sports gift gets (although it's only our first year doing it for Bloomberg Businessweek). 1. GameWear Team Logo Cell Phone and iPod Covers We dipped into the GameWear well two years ago when we featured their popular pigskin team logo bracelets; these handheld covers are infinitely more practical. The Cleveland Browns couldn't even keep the Detroit Lions out of the end zone, but a sturdy Browns cell phone cover will keep your phone off the IR when you throw it at the turf in disgust. Full line of official NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA team logos, plus a collection of cases featuring the jersey numbers of select star players. (Cell phone case, $19.95; iBounce case, $29.95, www.wearthegame.com) 2. Hank Haney "Fix the Yips Forever" Golf School/DVDs So what if you're not Charles Barkley or Ray Romano—or for that matter, the currently embattled Tiger Woods? Texas superstar golf instructor Hank Haney caters to the common folk, too. Especially common folk who are willing to fork over big money to fix their golf game. For $595 for a half day to $3,395 for a 3-day camp, a senior certified Hank Haney Yips Instructor at Vista Ridge Ranch in Lewisville, Tex., will "provide you with a customized program to cure yourself of this potentially career-ending problem." Can't afford the tuition in this economy? No worries. Haney packages his "Essentials" golf-training program on a four-DVD box set that will only set you back $69.95 (or $84.90 for the Performance Pack, www.hankhaney.com). 3. 2006 Madden Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon We're guessing a fine cab goes well with Turducken. Newly retired coach, broadcast legend, and California native John Madden also knows his way around a game-winning fermentation formation. The longtime Livermore Valley resident now has a gold medal from the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition to show off alongside his Super Bowl ring, thanks to the first release of his Madden Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. The award-winning cab was aged in oak for 21 months and "hand-picked and sorted by family and friends" at harvest. ($38.00/bottle, $410.40 per case; buy two cases and receive one bottle signed by Madden and winemaker Tom Doczy, www.johnchristophercellars.com) 4. Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan Triple Zip Satchel The Williams sisters aren't the only tennis divas with fashion design desires. When she's not rehabbing her still-sore shoulder, forehand fashionista Maria Sharapova keeps busy designing shoes and bags for Cole Haan. The first line of products from her 2008 licensing agreement with the purveyor of classic accessories. Sharapova's Triple Zip Satchel ($298 for the nylon version, $398 for leather), which comes in day and evening hues, will please any diva on your list, tennis player or no. Also among the 20 items offered in the Sharapova line is a $50 "Billboard" tote featuring a startling close-up of one of Maria's baby hazels. That's one way to remember to keep your eye on the ball (www.cole-haan.com). 5. Moving Forward The breakout jazz album by former New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, also a classical guitar prodigy, was nominated for a Latin Grammy award earlier this fall. After years of packing his guitar along for road games, the Puerto Rico-born Yankees All-Star stepped into the pro music arena in 2003 with his Latin jazz debut Journey Within, and turned to music full-time upon his baseball retirement. Williams' Moving Forward includes collaborations with Jon Secada, Dave Koz, and Bruce Springsteen. (CD $14.98, stores nationwide and online) 6. Vancouver 2010 Olympic 3-D Plush Sidekick Slippers Canadian-designed Mukmuk, Sumi, and Quatchi may very well be the cuddliest mascots ever to grace the Olympic Games, and they're especially appealing when rendered as these big-headed, fuzzy children's slippers. Your kids will covet Mukmuk, a small and friendly Vancouver Island marmot; Sumi, the animal guardian spirit and symbol of the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games; and Quatchi, the loveable Sasquatch. ($24.99, http://www.vancouver2010.com) 7. Cisco Flip MinoHD Camcorder Even if you're a rookie when it comes to videography, you'll flip when you see how easy the Flip camcorder is to use—and what a terrific accessory it is in and out of the stadium. Cisco (CSCO) acquired Pure Digital Technologies in March in another visible foray into the consumer goods realm, and the video cameras continue to enhance the way people shoot and share video of their favorite life moments, including their passion for sports. The MinoHD 60 minute camcorder weighs only 3.3 ounces and captures 60 minutes of HD video on 4GB of built-in memory ($199.99); the 120-minute version boasts 8GB of built-in memory ($229.99). The products' FlipShare software makes it incredibly easy to upload to Facebook, YouTube, and other networked file-sharing sites. Both models are customizable with your own designs and images, or a large gallery of cutting-edge extreme sports designs—or, yes, the easily recognizable colors of your favorite sports teams. All of this adds up to a winning combination for sports fans of all ages. (www.theflip.com) 8. Big Papi En Fuego Hot Sauce Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz never minds if someone accuses him of being on the sauce when it's a bottle of his own. Earlier this year, Ortiz, who calls himself a lifelong hot sauce enthusiast in the grand Caribbean tradition, launched Big Papi En Fuego, made from fresh ingredients such as habanera peppers, smashed garlic, carrots, fresh lime—and vitamins. Ortiz terms the product a "lifestyle hot sauce," which is never off season. (Sampler four-pack of two-ounce bottles, $10.99; five-ounce bottle, $7.95, www.bigpapienfuego.com) 9. World Cup Official Art Poster Prints Seventeen international artists with a special connection to Africa—famous names as well as emerging talents—have created extraordinary Official Art Poster Edition works themed around next summer's World Cup. Each of the 17 works (39 x 27.5 inches) is different in style, and all express the artists' support for the events in South Africa and their excitement in being a part of it. Contributors of original works include Cape Town native Marlene Dumas, one of the world's leading contemporary artists; Senegalese artist Soly Cissé; Zhong Biao, one of China's foremost artists; and Brazil's Romero Britto, whose murals grace Miami's Landshark Stadium. Limited edition of 2,010 high-quality inkjet art prints of each of the 17 works of art with a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity. (Individual prints 90-210 EUR; complete edition in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa folder, 2490.00 EUR, (http://www.fifa.com) 10. College Highlights Holiday Lights University of Southern California license plate frames and flags are ubiquitous in SoCal. USC holiday lights merely put the frosting on the Trojan bowl season cake. In October, the Trojans announced an agreement with CollegeHighlites for officially licensed holiday lights. "The cardinal and gold lights and wiring embody the spirit of Troy, as well as the spirit of the holidays," reads the promo material penned by CollegeHighlites founder and USC alum Dave Bursin. While the current product focuses on USC, CollegeHighlites is securing an agreement with the College Licensing Committee, which governs licensing for over 187 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. By next year, rabid fans from the WAC to the SEC can set their homes ablaze in official team colors. ($11.95, 50 USC mini-Lights; $19.95, 100 USC Mini-Lights; $74.95 Light On/Fight On ValuePak, www.collegehighlites.com) And the 2009 sports White Elephant Gift Exchange All-Stars: 1. Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the Great American Songbook. 'Nuff said. (CD $14.99 at a store near you and online) 2. The Collegiate Snuggie. We don't care if it's warm. We don't care if it's soft. We don't care if it gives you the freedom to use your hands. We don't care if you can smuggle a pony keg into the game under one of these suckers. Wearing a team logo Snuggie, either in public or in the privacy of your own frat house, is the fastest route to forfeiting your friends, your fantasy league, and your student season tickets. ($19.95, www.collegesnuggies.com) 3. Team Logo Pro Grip Hammer. Although on paper it may be the perfect gift for the handy Celtics, Patriots, Steelers, Bulls, or Broncos fan, we feel strongly that the last thing a passionate sports fan needs in his hand is a heavy-duty stainless-steel-headed hammer that features the favorite team logo and "molded rubber grip with sport styling." Raider fan, or Raider coach, we're talking to you. ($24.95, www.fanzz.com)

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