Is Nike Inc. capitalizing on past controversy?

Savannah Wesley, Former Editor-in-Chief

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” was displayed on an image of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do it” movement. 

Mostly known for kneeling during the national anthem during an NFL football game in 2016, Kaepernick has now become the face of Nike’s latest ad campaign. The now exiled quarterback originally protested against police brutality against minorities in response to the multiple shootings that had been happening previous to the NFL season. Not long after, he was released from the 49ers and no NFL team has hired him since.

One major argument presented is that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to soldiers and veterans. These men and women fight and have fought for the rights of the American people and those who oppose the protest feel it is a spit in the eye of those who have fought and died. 

Standing during the anthem is also a way for Americans to show respect for the nation and to display a sense of unity. To show that citizens are equals and are loyal to their country. The anthem even states that citizens “will stand up” with others to defend their nation and protect rights of the citizens who live in this country. 

Protesters of Nike’s support of Kaepernick have been expressing their dislike for Nike and kneeling during the anthem in a rather backwards way.  In an attempt to discourage people from buying their product, they have been purchasing Nike products and burning them as a sign of protest. Which does not really do much to hurt Nike’s sales. It does quite the opposite.

Many Americans express the fact that they are protected under the First Amendment to freely express their thoughts and beliefs. Veterans and soldiers fought for American citizens to express and use these rights freely. They believed in fighting for American rights even if it meant sacrificing their lives. Kneeling is not an issue for many veterans and soldiers because some will kneel along with protesters in support of the movement to end police brutality against minorities.

 At many high schools, during a football game, if a player gets injured on the field, both teams kneel as a sign of respect. More often than not, the band does the same and even spectators in the stands. Everyone kneels while medical personal makes it onto the field and stay kneeling until the player stands up and is assisted to the sideline or is taken off the field on a gurney. 

Kaepernick even asked Army vet and former long snapper for the Seahawks Nate Boyer how to protest without insulting the armed forces. The now exiled football player originally started his protest by sitting but changed to kneeling after speaking with Boyer. He suggested kneeling because it shows more respect for those who sacrificed their lives for what the anthem and the flag stand for. Boyer proposed kneeling, because people kneel to pray and soldiers will often kneel before a fallen soldier’s grave.

The whole point of Kaepernick’s protest was to raise awareness and to put an end to police brutality against minorities, which many Americans seem to have forgotten. Nike is simply stating their stance and capitalizing on the controversy that supporting Kaepernick will provide.

Nike is a huge sponsor for the NFL but hired someone who was using their NFL status to raise awareness of their protest and movement. This was most likely done to gain more awareness of their product and capitalize on the movement that Kaepernick started two years ago. Despite what protesters think, burning Nike’s product and boycotting it will do next to nothing to Nike’s sales. If anything, the movement protesters are starting will just raise more awareness for Nike and may even give them a boost.