By Ken Reed
Nike has decided to make controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. The initial ad image has the face of Kapernick with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” written across his face in white letters.
Kaepernick, long part of Nike’s family of celebrity athlete endorsers, has continued to be paid by Nike since his kneeling-during-the-national-anthem protest over police brutality and social injustice in this country began a couple years ago.
Under the terms of Kaepernick’s new deal with Nike, he will have his own branded line of shoes, shirts, jerseys, and other apparel.
It is certainly a bold and controversial move for Nike to take. For one thing, Nike is an NFL corporate sponsor and provides the game uniforms for all NFL teams. Second, Kaepernick is in the middle of a lawsuit against the NFL. Last week, Kaepernick won the summary judgment phase of his collusion case against the league. Kaepernick, once a rising star in the NFL, who led his team, the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, has been trying to find a job in the league for over a year, to no avail. Third, many NFL fans are upset with Kaepernick’s kneeling protests during the playing of the national anthem, and upset at the league for not coming down harder on players that have followed Kaepernick’s lead and protested during the anthem.
Kaepernick is undoubtedly a lightning rod in this country and Nike’s new campaign will reignite the fight between Kaepernick supporters and protesters.
As expected, the response to news of the Nike campaign has been mixed. Nike stock was down two percent in early trading Tuesday morning. Both protesters and supporters have come out strong on social media platforms. Reaction has been almost evenly split. Some people are openly burning their Nike shoes and clothes. Meanwhile, one NFL owner, the Oakland Raiders’ Mark Davis, has come out in support of Kaepernick and his new Nike ad campaign.
Former CIA director, John Brennan, had this to say on Twitter:
“Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America. He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution — ‘in order to form a more perfect union.’ Well done, Colin, well done.”
President Trump, a frequent critic of both Kaepernick and NFL owners for not coming down harder on players that protest during the anthem, will surely have plenty to say about this new Nike campaign.
Hang on, this is going to get loud and nasty.
The sad part is that most of the noise will be centered on Kaepernick, Nike, the NFL, Trump, etc. It won’t be focused on the real issue: police brutality and social injustice in this country.
That’s where our attention and energy should be.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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