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
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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