Nike is a global company which produced $36.4 billion in revenue last year. The apparel and footwear giant took home $1.9 billion of that in profit so I tend to believe Nike is doing something right.
One thing a number of people believe the company is doing wrong is its choice of spokesperson. The decision by Nike to use Colin Kaepernick in conjunction with its 30th anniversary of the "Just Do It" campaign has created extreme backlash. The Nike ad features Kaepernick along with the phrase, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Nike had to expect a violent reaction from the ad, the type of reaction where people burn their sneakers and vow never again to buy anything with a swoosh.
The criticism has been especially amplified on Fox News where columnist Britt McHenry writes, "To sacrifice everything, you have to be willing to part with life itself, like so many members of our military and law enforcement risk doing every single day."
I agree with the military and law enforcement angle, but arguing about who's the very most qualified person for an ad campaign seems misguided. Whether it's an Oscar or a Little League MVP, it can always be claimed someone else is more deserving so this is hardly the backbone of a meaningful refute.
Fox columnist Todd Starnes goes a step further when he so eloquently writes, "The only thing Kaepernick is qualified to endorse is knee pads." Starnes goes on to call Kaepernick a left-wing America hater.
All this anger stems from Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016. At the time, he was an NFL quarterback.
Said Kaepernick to NFL Media, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Seems like a fair enough point.
But Kaepernick was blackballed by the NFL for exercising his First Amendment rights. He has been banished from the league and forced to give up his football career for stating his beliefs.
I'm proud of Nike for supporting Kaepernick and drawing attention to his plight. He might be delivering a message we don't want to hear. He might be delivering it during what's intended to be a patriotic moment. But the same Constitution that protects his right to peacefully protest also protects other freedoms, like the right to send ugly and insulting tweets at 3 a.m.
Because of Nike's affiliation with Kaepernick, there are some people who may never buy Nike again. That's their right.
It's also Nike's right to align itself with someone who is working to make a difference. Nike may not be highlighting a member of our fine military, but the company is fighting for our freedoms in its own way.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.