The Weddington Witness

On the Nike Controversy

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Image used under fair use law.

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Image used under fair use law.

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Last week, famous-maker Nike sparked controversy by announcing that they had signed NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick to be the new face of their widely popular ‘Just Do It’ advertisement campaign. Reactions have varied widely, but some have gone as far as to burn their Nike apparel. Many believe kneeling for the national anthem is disrespectful, specifically to veterans of the military. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, it is clear that the now infamous kneeling of popular NFL players has forced Americans to openly discuss what it means to be a respectful, yet powerful citizen.

For those who aren’t familiar with Colin Kaepernick, he first attracted attention in 2016 when he sat on the bench during the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ when it was performed before a game. This peaceful protest eventually evolved into a kneel, which Kaepernick decided was a more respectful way to protest. Kaepernick says he is protesting the mistreatment of people of color in America. Since then, the controversial act has been adopted by other NFL players, prompting an intense political debate.

Kaepernick’s anthem controversy aside, it is a bold and risky move by Nike to make such a polarizing figure the face of their brand. Who knows if such a gamble will pay off. Many consumers, even in the first 24 hours, chose to boycott the clothing brand. Will people who agree with Kaepernick’s actions end up buying more Nike products than they otherwise would have? Will this offset the sales lost by boycotts? The jury is still out on this one. Nike stocks took quite a hit when the ad was unveiled, but the company’s online sales saw a 31% increase. Regardless of how things shake out financially, it should be noted that a company’s first concern will almost always be profit, not pushing political agendas or promoting controversial causes.

Some would argue that Colin Kaepernick hasn’t sacrificed enough. Some say that he should be inciting change in a different way. The truth is that no matter what your views are on his ends, his means are working. Kaepernick has gotten America talking. It doesn’t seem as though Kaepernick has any ill will towards this country, or towards those who have put their lives at risk to defend it; Kaepernick knows that if he turns enough heads the problems he wishes to outline will become more prevalent in our discourse. Kaepernick doesn’t need to find a new outlet, because his current method is working. As consumers boycott Nike, the news and people everywhere have Kaepernick’s message on their minds yet again. When the NFL season gets underway, there will undoubtedly be even more players taking a knee. It becomes clearer and clearer each time this issue resurfaces that the only way to end this is to give people like Colin Kaepernick a listen. Maybe he’s giving a voice to those that would really like to have one. Clearly after all he’s lost, Kaepernick isn’t faking. If he were kneeling for personal gain, it’s clear that he’s failing miserably. What the ad outlines so well is that despite how you feel about his politics, I don’t doubt for a second that he believes in what he’s fighting for.

1 Comment

One Response to “On the Nike Controversy”

  1. Paul M. Belosh on September 25th, 2018 8:53 am

    Zac,
    Excellent article on a very important subject, patriotism vs. 1st ammendent rights. This can be debated until the end of time, but you established a framework of words to make the reader want to think and act on their own feelings.
    Continued success on your writing and I look forward to reading more of your articles. Remember, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” PMB

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