Just Don’t


photo by ABC News

Colin Kaepernick is one of the feature athletes in Nike’s latest “Just Do It” campaign.

Church and State. Socks and Sandals. Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

Some things are just meant to stay separate.

In the same vein, there is a reason why there has been an unspoken line between sports and politics.

Sunday used to be an escape. No matter what was going on in the world–be it a natural disaster or a contentious presidential election– Sunday football provided a time where no one had to worry about all that and just have fun rooting for their favorite team.

Now, Sundays have been tainted, and have been for some time. Yet, Nike’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick for their latest ad campaign is not just detrimental to the tension that already exists in this country, but cements the fact that corporations are only making these statements on hot-button issues to advance their own brand.

Kaepernick has been a controversial figure since he began kneeling for the national anthem in 2016. He has yet to find a home with an NFL team after opting out of his contract with the 49ers in early 2017. Last November, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding not to hire him. This suit is still pending, and it remains a hot topic in the sports world. Now, in September 2018, Nike has made him one of the faces of their company, supporting Kaepernick’s stance that the NFL is colluding against him. Right?

Not necessarily. In March, Nike signed an extension with the NFL where they provide all 32 teams with game-day uniforms. While financial details of the deal were not released publically, a similar deal with the NBA was worth $1 billion. If Nike is siding with Kaepernick in this debate, why haven’t they threatened to pull out of the NFL deal? Or, if they can’t, why haven’t they publicly condemned the NFL’s previous actions regarding Kaepernick?

Anyone can guess the truth. It’s all about the money.

Nike doesn’t care about whether the NFL is colluding against Kaepernick or not. They don’t care about Kaepernick’s stances on the national anthem. All they care about is their charts and graphs that show them how consumer base will respond, and which actions will sell the most product. Using politics for corporate gain is a gross underhanded tactic. Nike has crossed a line that should not be crossed.

Nike isn’t the only guilty party. During the 2017 Super Bowl, 84 Lumber and Audi both aired ads that took stands on President Trump’s border wall and Equal Pay for Women respectively. Politics is beginning to seep its way into the corporate marketing world, and in a time where politically motivated harassment or violence can occur at any moment, these ads are only fanning the flames of discontent, increasing tensions where there should be respectful debate.

People who have been burning their Nike socks or shoes were forced to make a choice. Did they want to express their love for their country by burning their favorite shoe, or continue wearing their favorite shoe, but be seen as supporting a cause they don’t support.

People’s likes and dislikes don’t automatically dictate their political stances, and the fact that it’s a possibility that someone may have to give up watching their favorite sport or their favorite shoe, just to prove their political opinion is a shame.

But then again, what does Nike care?