The Sidelining of Nike

Nike’s decision to enlist Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson and then ascribe to him the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” has elicited a large reaction, to which I’ll contribute here.

Speaking for myself, I find it wearisome when companies that make products with no conceivable political implication decide to weigh into politics, take a partisan position, provoke controversy, and then shove their point of view in the public’s face.

ESPN does this, but I will still watch ESPN. Yet Nike has not been content simply to engage in partisan politics. In addition, it has decided to stake out so bone-headed and indefensible an ad campaign as to insult the intelligence of the public and especially its customers.

It’s as though Nike were saying, “We’re going to make completely stupid and outrageous claims, and you’re going to keep buying our stuff, and because you do even though we insulted your intelligence, you’ll be our consumer slaves forever!”

Well, maybe that’s not their exact rationale, but what sort of bubble-wrapped echo-chamber group-think cocoon could have provided the incubator for “”Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” and then attribute those words to, of all people, Colin Kaepernick?

Kaepernick is a retired professional football player. He had several years of an income that most Americans could only dream about. If he didn’t blow it but invested it, he would be financially very well off. But more to the point, he now has a contract with Nike paying him for his endorsement.

So what exactly has Kaepernick sacrificed? Even if his taking the knee at NFL games has cost him something (have NFL teams declined to hire him as a quarterback because he took the knee), it is misconceived to the point of delusional to say that he has “sacrificed everything.”

The American soldiers who died in combat defending our nation, and whom Kaepernick insulted by taking the knee, have indeed sacrificed everything. Kaepernick is alive and well and enjoying a Nike endorsement deal. What alternate reality inspires ascribing to Kaepernick the sacrifice of everything?

I like the College of Ozarks reaction to Nike (I had the honor of speaking there over a decade ago):

The College of the Ozarks, a private Christian school in Point Lookout, Missouri, that competes in sports at the NAIA level, said it will remove all uniforms purchased from Nike that contain the brand’s logo.

Last year, the college added a stipulation to competition contracts, saying it would walk away from any game where the opposing team takes a knee, sits or turns its back on the flag or anthem.

“If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them,” College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said in a statement. “We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”


As for me and my family, we’ll look to give Nike’s competitors our business in moving forward.