Amy Roberts: Profit, priorities and the best show on TV |

Amy Roberts: Profit, priorities and the best show on TV

Afghanistan. The recent UN climate report. A devastating earthquake in Haiti. The delta variant. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Sometimes, it just feels like the world is imploding. The news this past month has been heavy and heartbreaking and everything has felt a bit hopeless. Then along came season two of “Ted Lasso.”

Park Record columnist Amy Roberts.

Admittedly, I’m a Ted-head. Utter superfan. But for anyone unfamiliar, the show is centered around Ted Lasso, a college football coach in America who is recruited to coach Premier League soccer in England by the team’s new owner, a scorned divorcee. She plans to get back at her cheating ex-husband by destroying the only thing he ever really cared about, AFC Richmond. (Rest assured; the show is much funnier than my description.)

I first heard about “Ted Lasso” last November and ended up binging the entire first season in one day. The headlines were a bit different then, but the takeaways felt the same — it’s a dreadful mess out there. I needed something to get me out of that funk and found it on Apple TV. “Ted Lasso” gave me all the feels. It is at once endearing, joyful, motivational and hilarious. Each episode is like getting a feet-off-the-ground bear hug by a long-lost friend. More than once since last fall, I’ve had to remind myself the characters aren’t real people. (I spent way too much time these past nine months worried about Roy Kent.)

Aside from its wit, one of the show’s greatest attributes is its nod towards “doing the right-est thing.” A couple of weeks ago, an episode centered around the team’s main sponsor, whose corporate owner was a fictional oil company polluting Nigeria and bribing the country’s government to get away with it. When Nigerian players learned of this, they covered the sponsor’s logo on their uniforms and inspired other players to do the same. They did the “right-est” thing by exposing corruption and favoring social responsibility over corporate dollars.

Admittedly, it was a plot that seemed a little far-fetched here in capitalist America. People (and players) might boycott a brand or take a stand, but companies (or teams) turning down gobs of corporate cash on principle? Well, that’s as fictional as the show. Or so I thought.

Last week the sportwear company Patagonia announced it would no longer sell its products to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after learning one of the resort’s owners, Jay Kemmerer, co-hosted a fundraiser for the House Freedom Caucus. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congressman Jim Jordan, and former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows headlined the event.

In addition to their repeated false claims of election fraud, this trio has dismal environmental and voting rights records — positions completely at odds with Patagonia’s corporate ethos. And so, Patagonia did the right-est thing and favored its principles over profit.

Company spokeswoman Corley Kenna said in a statement, “Those that know us in Jackson Hole are aware that we make business decisions and build relationships in alignment with our values and advocacy efforts… we will continue to use our business to advocate for policies to protect our planet, support thriving communities and a strong democracy.”

Nobody can accuse Patagonia of lacking gumption. The company was fully aware of what was at stake before making the decision. There will undoubtedly be backlash and counter boycotts. There will be cries of “cancel culture” and mean tweets and a host of accusations. Someone will probably start nasty rumors about the CEO and repeat them until they’re widely accepted. I wouldn’t rule out death threats. Somehow, this has all become an acceptable norm for being intentional about financial decisions and corporate partnerships. As anyone willing to stand firm in their beliefs knows, the price of advocacy is steep. But the cost of not being an advocate is moral bankruptcy.

Patagonia is the retail version of Ted Lasso. And as the coach would say, “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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