Social media was abuzz on Monday as Nike unveiled an ad with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their ‘Just Do It’ campaign.
The controversial ad has a picture of Kaepernick’s face and the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
As we know, Kaepernick sacrificed his professional football career back in August 2016, when he decided to take a knee during the national anthem before a preseason game. After that game, the former second-round pick explained to NFL Media’s Steve Wyche why he did not stand.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “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.”
His explanation was profound and immediately caused a firestorm that would affect the entire sports world, especially the NFL.
Since taking his final snap on Jan. 1, 2017, Kaepernick still hasn’t been signed by an NFL team and is currently suing the NFL owners for collusion. However, the conversation surrounding social injustice and police brutality has never been at his highest.
Nike has seen all of this transpire and did not once consider releasing Kaepernick off of their roster. Instead, they stood by him and will be featuring the former quarterback on various platforms, creating an apparel line and contributing to his charity “I Know My Rights.”
Therefore, one could say that Nike has done more to help the movement than what the NFL has done over these last two years.
The NFL has found every way possible to distance themselves from Kaepernick and cannot find a common ground with NFL players on the national anthem policy.
Why might this be the case? Ratings and money. The NFL is scared to lose viewers on both sides.
Nike, meanwhile, understands the risk that comes with this move, but also understands what it could mean in the grand scheme of things.
Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, spoke to ESPN’s Darren Rovell and made it clear that they believe in Kaepernick’s stance.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” he said.
While most will hear Kaepernick’s message and read Nike’s statement, it will sadly fall on deaf ears for a select few.
On social media, there are videos circulating of people cutting the Nike swoosh off of their socks and burning their Nike sneakers based on the company’s decision to use Kaepernick in an ad.
It is amazing to see how people react when they do not want to understand the message one is promoting, only seeing things through their dingy rose-colored glasses.
It also does not help when you have journalists such as Clay Travis, Britt McHenry, and Jason Whitlock peddling their own narratives on social media about the Nike-Kaepernick partnership.
Travis called it the dumbest move Nike has ever made in the history of its brand. He also mentioned Kaepernick on Twitter, asking him when will he speak out about overseas workers, who don’t get paid a lot to make these sneakers?
Granted, everybody knows this about Nike and other sneaker companies. But when was the last time Travis or anybody else has spoken up about this issue? I’ll wait. Once again, it all falls on deaf ears because none of us think about these things when we pick up an article of clothing.
Then there is Whitlock, who said this whole movement from the beginning is all about money and it’s a hustle.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on this topic because we live in a country of free speech.
And if you think about it, Nike is doing the same thing. But it ruffles people’s feathers because there is a select few that think a brand should not endorse a political stance either way.
Will some people boycott Nike and continue to burn their swoosh items out of anger and for social media clout? Definitely! We are already seeing the impact with Nike’s shares reportedly dropping 3 percent on Tuesday.
However, this is only happening because Nike decided to stand on the right side of history with Kaepernick.