Notoriously well-known Colin Kaepernick, the ex-San Francisco 49er football player who hasn’t signed a contract since his disastrous last season record, and opting out of his own contract with the team, is the new face for Nike’s 30th anniversary celebration of the company’s Just Do It campaign.
The multi-million dollar former player, recognized, on and off the field, for using his professional platform to raise awareness for police brutality against Americans of colour, and racial injustices, announced, September 4th, 2018, though a tweet by Kaepernick a day prior, on the 3rd, foreshadowed today’s announcement.
All hell broke loose as a consequence of the Kaepernick deal. Thousands of people took their battle to Twitter to demonstrate their intolerance towards the new compromise; burning their Nike apparel and imposing a boycott on the company. CNBC and BBC share that hashtags such as #NikeBoycott and #JustBurnIt appeared trending on the social media platform.
One of the more popular stories comes from John Rich, one of the musicians from the country music group Big & Rich, who tweeted out a picture of one of his soundmen (we assume he means sound engineer), a former marine, who cut out the distinct Nike swish from his socks.
This is definitely not a good look for Nike as it seems they are looking to play into the realm of identity politics. Is this a divisive card that the company can afford to pull? Since the announcement and the whole Twitter debacle, stocks have dropped over three-percent. That being said, Bloomberg reports that the company made a whopping $43 million in just its media exposure.
Contrary to opinion, Nike is no secret to controversy and this might actually be a lucrative move. According to CBC, in 1995 they stirred controversy by featuring an HIV-positive runner in a well-received appeal to AIDS activists. In the same year they tried to pander to the feminist cause but were met with criticism for allegedly over simplifying their message in describing women and their relationship with the sports world.
In 2017, the company dropped an ad discussing the lack of equality in the world. Watching the commercial, seeing exclusively black sports icons, hearing Michael B. Jordan narrate, and reading between the lines, one would get the impression that Nike is suggesting that America was not equal.
Many Americans, regardless of leaning, feel as though Nike betrayed them by signing an athlete that has no regard for the American way, and significantly, respect for the flag and what it represents to the American people. This is a highly controversial and debatable topic.
Over the course of the last twenty-plus years, it does not look like Nike wants to move away from its social justice warrior agenda.
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