Grade 9-12

Sports Economics: Worshipping at the Altars of Adi, Phil and Kevin

Updated: April 26 2024,
Author: Mike Raymer

Essential Question: How do entrepreneurship, competition, and specialization benefit consumers of athletic footwear and apparel? In order to gain a better understanding of the important role entrepreneurs play in a market economy, students participate in an activity that highlights the history of the athletic apparel industry in the United States and beyond. At the completion of the lesson, students will be able to explain how Adi Dassler, Phil Knight, and Kevin Plank used their entrepreneurial skills and abilities to satisfy the wants of billions of people.

Time Required

Many students in a typical American high school are probably wearing footwear and/or athletic apparel produced by Adidas, Nike, or Under Armour. By examining these companies, students will gain a greater understanding of the three entrepreneurs who are credited with building these companies into globally recognized brands that have billions of dollars in sales. Students will also gain a greater understanding of how competition drives these companies to continuously produce improved products at affordable prices. Students will take on the roles of entrepreneurs, professional athletes, and ordinary consumers to demonstrate how entrepreneurs make lives better for consumers of their products.

Will Be Able To

  • Describe how entrepreneurs bring together the factors of production to produce goods and services.
  • Explain how specialization and voluntary exchange between buyers and sellers increase the satisfaction of both parties.



1.      Explain to students that they will examine entrepreneurs/founders of three popular businesses in an attempt to figure out why each of these businesses has been successful in the marketplace. Do not tell the students the true identities of the three entrepreneurs or their businesses until after procedure step #7.

2.      Select three students to play the roles of three famous entrepreneurs. Give each student one role card from Activity 1: Entrepreneurs. Instruct these students that they are to use initials only while they are playing these roles.

3.      Select three different students to play the role of consumers in need of specific consumer goods. Give each student one role card from Activity 2: Consumers. Instruct these students to take turns reading their cards aloud to the rest of the class.

4.      After each student has read his or her Activity 2: Consumers card, instruct the three famous entrepreneurs to speak up when they think they can offer a good or goods that will help satisfy the wants and needs of these consumers. (Each entrepreneur must adhere to the dates on his or her card.)

5.      Once all Activity 2: Consumer cards have been read and all matches have been made, ask the consumers to stand next to the entrepreneur that helped satisfy their demands.

6.      Ask the non-card holder students in the class if they can name the companies the three entrepreneurs represent. (Answers may vary.)

7.      Give each entrepreneur the logo from the company he or she represents – Activity 1A: Company Logos and ask them to show the rest of the class. Company #1 matches Entrepreneur #1, Company #2 matches Entrepreneur #2, and Company #3 matches Entrepreneur #3. Once all three companies have been identified, the students can take their seats.

8.      Display Visual 1: Adi, Phil, and Kevin and explain to students that the three entrepreneurs being discussed in this lesson are Adi Dassler of Adidas, Phil Knight of Nike, and Kevin Plank of Under Armour. Ask students what these three men did to be considered entrepreneurs. (Answers should include: they brought together productive resources, they improved upon existing products, they specialized in one area (athletic apparel and/or footwear), they met the demands of consumers, or they did it in order to make a profit.

9.      Tell students that over the yearsall three businesses have continued to innovate in order to compete and gain new customers. Remind students that in order to stay relevant in a market economy, businesses need to continuously improve their products in order to build brand loyalty and maintain their customer base.

10.  Display Visual 2: Innovation demonstrating the idea of product innovation.

11.  Ask the three entrepreneurs to come back to the front of the class with their company logos.

12.  Select nine students to play the roles of the followers of Adi Dassler, Phil Knight, and Kevin Plank. Give each of these students one role card from Activity 3: The Followers. Tell the nine students to read their cards aloud before going to stand near the entrepreneurthey follow.

13.  Once the nine students have moved to an area near the entrepreneurthey followask them if they are happier after using the products produced by these three companies. (Answers should be yes.) Why are they happier? (The entrepreneurs make goods that satisfy their wants and some of them are being paid to use the products.)

14.  Complete the activity by asking the three entrepreneurs if they are happier after creating new goods for their followers(Answers should be yes.) Why does making these new goods make them happier? (The more products they sell, the more profit they earn.)

15.  Display Visual 3 – Tale of the Tape demonstrating the idea that entrepreneurs sometimes benefit from their successful ideas and business plans.

16.  Display Visual 4: Endorsed demonstrating how all three companies have aligned themselves with big name athletes, teams, and universities to sell more products.

17.  Display Visual 5: Where Are They Now? and ask students if they have ever heard of KangaROOS. (Answer will most likely be no.) Tell students that KangaROOS sold millions of running shoes in the 1980’s before the popularity of the company fell off to the point where it  went out of business. Tell the students that KangaROOS failed to compete with the likes of Nike and Adidas and they eventually went out of business.

18.  Review the following points with students. Entrepreneurs bring together the factors of production. Entrepreneurs create new and/or improved products that satisfy the needs of consumers. Entrepreneurs sometimes create great wealth for themselves and others. Entrepreneurs help drive market economies. Entrepreneurs are not guaranteed success in market economies.

19.  Hand out Activity 4: Entrepreneurship Quiz and instruct students to answer “yes” or “no” to each item. (You can leave the scoring explanation off of the bottom when you copy it to avoid students answering in ways designed to give themselves the right score.)

20.  Ask students to tally their “yes” responses. Explain that a score of 17 or higher means they are likely to make good entrepreneurs.


Entrepreneurship and competition are both key components of a healthy mixed market economy. Due to entrepreneurship and competition, consumers regularly see new and innovative goods and services that make their lives better. Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour all compete with each other to win customer loyalty and business. This competition results in high quality products and, in some cases, lower priced goods for consumers.

Extension Activity

There is no extension activity for this lesson.


Short Answer Question

1.      On an exit card, have students respond to the following prompt:

Write three sentences telling why you agree or disagree with the following statement:

                  “I think entrepreneurship is an important part of our economy.”


There is no student version for this lesson.

Task List

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There is no student version for this lesson.


There is no student version for this lesson.

Assessment Activity

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Extension Activity

There is no student version for this lesson.