Nike partnership is no surprise

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 at 4:57 PM

Over the weekend, Nike chose former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, as the spokesman for their “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign. The advertising campaign is meant to bolster the company and Kaepernick, after he shed light on the unfair treatment of African Americans by police through kneeling during the pre-game national anthem. 

This is an extremely decisive issue in America, as many feel he is disrespecting the military. There were publicized accounts of Nike customers burning their shoes, destroying their socks, and some boycotting the company due to the choice of athlete. Others are applauding Nike for embracing the cause and then buying a pair of shoes. 

On Sept. 7, 2016 Forbes magazine said in an article: “Colin Kapernick is not even listed as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers as of Sept. 6, but there is no player in the National Football League selling more jerseys than the backup QB. As of this morning, the top seller on NFLShop.com is a Kaepernick Nike Scarlet Game Jersey, besting Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham as the most popular jersey leading into the 2016 NFL regular season.” Nike was fully aware of these numbers, and I imagine it was one of the first bullet points brought up during the pitch meeting to choose Kaepernick. In other words, Nike is heading back to the racially charged well for another bucket of water. Before I jump to conclusions, let’s talk more about Nike.

In May of 2018, according to a story by CNBC, “Multiple executives have left Nike because of reports of inappropriate behavior and poor workplace conduct. Fed up with the corporate culture at the Oregon-based company, a group of women started a small revolt.” Apparently, women were excluded from company affairs and management didn’t take reports of inappropriate behavior seriously. The old adage is, “any press is good press.” However, in the age of the #Metoo movement, that is most definitely no longer the case.  A workplace that is hostile toward female employees, especially one as big and powerful as Nike, can’t simply shrug it off. This news story angered women.

Their problems don’t stop there. On August 1, 2017 Marc Bain, a fashion reporter, stated  “The company has also allegedly denied the independent monitoring group Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) access to inspect its contract factories [abroad]. The WRC was founded in 2000 by universities, international labor rights experts, and student groups…to ensure that products bearing university logos were made under conditions that respected workers’ rights.” Since the 70’s Nike has had a problem when it comes to utilizing sweatshops to create their products.  In the past year, universities and threatened to stop using their products if they continue to exploit sweatshop labor. Only then did Nike agree to allow inspections the following month. Despite that, Nike has little control over sub-contracted workplaces. Often, the workplaces are dangerous and inhumane. Nike exploiting these sweatshops anger anyone with a conscience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch “Nike Sweatshops: Behind the Swoosh” on YouTube.

But what does this have to do with Colin Kaepernick?  The decision to choose him for their “Just Do It” campaign may have less to do with saluting equal treatment toward African Americans and more to do with a positive news story. A news story that doesn’t expose them for being misogynist, exploiting, fat cats who are only concerned about overhead (If you hate President Trump, insert comparison here). While the country argues over a misunderstanding: kneeling to expose the killing of unarmed black men vs. kneeling to disrespect the troops, Nike sits on the sideline and collects. Now they are in the business of social justice! Just in time for football season. This isn’t about black and white, this is about green. 

I like Colin Kaepernick. I rooted for him as a player on the 49ers, I admire him for sacrificing a career in the name of his convictions, and I wish him the best.  

I am not surprised Nike chose Colin Kaepernick, but I am surprised Colin Kaepernick chose Nike. 

Pete Brady can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: voices, nike

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