Reimer: Nike siding with Kaepernick is seminal moment that shows where the majority actually lies

Alex Reimer
September 04, 2018 - 1:11 pm

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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There is nothing noble about Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick a face of the 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It” campaign. Multibillion-dollar corporations that operate sweatshops and face gender discrimination lawsuits don’t often act with the greater good in mind. Nike cares about profit, and the sports apparel company has seemingly determined that attaching itself to Kaepernick is good business. 

That’s a seminal moment, especially considering Nike is the NFL’s official apparel provider. This past March, Nike and the league struck a new agreement that says the company will provide teams with uniforms and other gear through 2028. Surely, NFL owners and executives aren't thrilled with Kaepernick getting thrust back into the news cycle just days before the start of the 2018 season. (Last week, an arbitrator ruled Kaepernick's collusion case against the league would be allowed to continue.) 

Nike released an ad Monday that lionizes Kaepernick’s protests for racial justice during the national anthem, which chased him from the league. The quarterback is entering his second season of unemployment, despite the fact that atrocious pass-throwers like Buffalo’s Nathan Peterman will be seen under center during Week 1.

Nike and Kaepernick already had an endorsement deal dating back to 2011, the New York Times reports. The contract was recently extended and will lead to Nike producing new Kaepernick apparel, including a shoe and t-shirt. Nike will also donate money to Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” campaign. 

The partnership set off a firestorm. The hashtag #BoycottNike began trending on Twitter Monday night and videos of aggrieved MAGA heads burning their Nike shoes have been plastered all over social media. Fox News host Tucker Carlson told “Fox & Friends” –– the President's favorite TV show –– Nike is profiting off Kaepernick’s “attacks on our country."

Stock for Nike was down more than two percent Tuesday, but so was Adidas and Puma. It doesn't appear as if the dip is related to Kaepernick

Nike, much like all major companies, doesn't make decisions on a whim –– never mind something as significant as selecting the poster athletes for its “Just Do It” campaign. The corporation’s scores of advertising and marketing executives must have figured the backlash to Kaepernick was coming. But they apparently decided the positives outweigh the negatives. 

Nike’s target market doesn’t include middle-aged and older white folks who disprove of black players protesting during the national anthem. This is a play for the legacy company to keep appealing to millennials, and seperate themselves from competitors Under Armour and Adidas. 

Surely, Nike noticed that Kaepernick's jersey became the No. 1 seller in the NFL when he started his protest in 2016. The quarterback's jersey remains popular today, even though he hasn't played football in two years. 

Earlier this year, Dick's Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling assault rifles, and saw its image among young conusmers improve. Nike probably took note of that, too. 

Nike didn’t align itself with Kaepernick for Twitter applause. It believes this is the right business move, even though it rebukes the NFL. Nike has sided with the blackballed quarterback who speaks out against police brutality and racial injustice over one of its largest and most important business partners. 

And money has everything to do with it. 

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