The Nike Boycott

October 17, 2018

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Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers player and current face of American controversy, has once again made it to the top of news headlines nationwide. Kaepernick came to fame back in 2016 for first sitting during the National Anthem and then later infamously kneeling.

During any American sporting event, professional or not, the National Anthem is performed by an American citizen, during which everyone stands and offers their respect. Kaepernick started kneeling about a year after Michael Brown’s death. Brown was a young black boy who fell fault at the hands of police brutality. Brown’s death, among others, furthered the conversation of police brutality in America. Shot and killed at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson was found not guilty on a count of “self defense.” This sparked weeks of riots and and again caused more national debate. Kaepernick declares that he kneels in protest of police brutality, telling NFL media reporter, “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.” This protest quickly caught the American eye and was seen by conservatives as the most pure form of treachery. The point was to catch the public eye and spark up conversation. Kaepernick’s conversation was meant to be had on police brutality; however, it seems that part of the media is doing everything they can to make it a statement about infidelity, thus failing to review the situation at hand: police brutality.

With all the uproar, fan disloyalty for the 49ers ensued, Kaepernick was kicked off the team, and he now is a freelance agent. Ex-fans burned his jerseys, ridding themselves of his merchandise and truly showing the multimillionaire who’s boss. As for Kaepernick, he cried. Long and hard. His feelings were hurt and he cried. He couldn’t believe that he lost his job for shining light on racial injustice. He then learned NEVER to discuss racism ever again. Then he got his job back after learning his lesson. And he was happy.

Just kidding.

Fast forward 2 ½ years, and nothing much has changed. Kaepernick is still unemployed, America remains unimpressed, and this article is being written. Well known sports company Nike has taken up the idea of featuring Kaepernick in their latest ad, which would not impress right-wing Nike buyers. The ad itself features Kaepernick and his voice―literally. The ad is about making your dreams bigger than they are, being the best you can be, and demonstrating 

that even through hardships you can achieve anything and nothing can stop you from being the very best. Truly inspiring. In the video, Kaepernick says, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” referencing him losing his job over protesting. There’s a great message being conveyed and I think it’ll be inspiring to young athletes and will give them a boost of confidence to pursue their dreams. But, it once again was viewed as another form of treachery by upset rightists, again! Rightists protested this company by doing what they do best, burning their already purchased merchandise. They burned, destroyed, and pretty much ran Nike out of business. In fact, Nike’s stock went SO low that Under Armor had to purchase Nike in order to keep them in some sort of business. The power of protesting, right?

No. Just kidding.

Yes, Nike’s stock went down―for about 48 hours―and people really did burn their Nike products. Burning already-purchased jerseys is one thing, but Nike products? They’re not cheap. I just don’t see the point in that, but maybe I’m missing something, I mean, I have to be the one who’s wrong. I also didn’t know it was still conventional to burn objects when you dislike something. I don’t know―I feel like that could be taken out of context by some. In contrast to this drastic and asinine waste of time, others support Kaepernick and continue to buy from Nike. Some even tie in their other personal views to rationalize the controversy around the Nike ad, and they’re not wrong. There’s many other important events that need the attention this ad is getting, but, somehow, this ad overrides everything else.

All in all, it just seems that no matter what Kaepernick does, as long as he decides against standing for the anthem, everything he does will be treacherous until he does so. Here is how I see it: Less than half of cops who kill both armed and unarmed black men lose their jobs, and, like Kaepernick said, they sometimes get “paid leave,” the equivalent to suspending a student from school. Kaepernick is kneeling in solidarity with those lives lost, and protesting the injustice being served. Why was it so much easier to fire him for kneeling than it is to fire an officer for the murder of innocent people? It was very interesting, how quick people were to protest post-ad Nike, all because it featured Kaepernick, but there was little to no uproar when sources revealed that Nike underpays their workers and supplies minimal working conditions for them. If anything, that is a more valid reason to stop supporting Nike―not because an activist was featured in an ad for them.

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