Nike ad: touchdown or fumble?


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Nike’s advertising spans the globe, and the controversial Colin Kaepernick ad is no different. Pedestrians and drivers in downtown Manhattan are treated to an image of the football player’s face and a quote from the video.

To an athlete or a worshipper, kneeling is a sign of respect, but to the National Football League, it is a punishable offense. Just ask former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was cut from the team, fined and ridiculed by the public for choosing to kneel during the National Anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and oppression of African Americans.

“When I think of [Kaepernick], I think of a really good football player who was cheated out of the NFL for taking a stand…by kneeling,” White Station football player Nehemiah Goldson (10) said.

For the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” slogan in September, Nike, Inc. released a controversial ad featuring clips of both elite and unknown athletes who had overcome obstacles. All the while, Kaepernick’s voice echoes: “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

Kaepernick’s controversial kneeling has turned heads of conservative leaders and citizens alike. The ad’s challengers say that a man who disrespected the flag should not be the face of such a large company.

“Standing for our flag—respecting our flag—means respecting those who have died for it. You’re free to choose to stand or not, but they chose to fight for you,” football player Asher Hill (11) said.

However, Kaepernick has said that his goal was not to disrespect but rather to use his First Amendment rights to bring attention to one of America’s most divisive issues: black Americans are victims of a government that is supposed to represent and protect them.

“The flag waves for a country with injustices. As a black female, America doesn’t seem to stand for me,” Akira Jones (11) said. “That has to change. Why stand for something that doesn’t stand for me?”

At first, neither side of the debate knew what the consequences of the ad would be for Nike.

Despite initial mixed reactions, surveys reported that the majority of respondents either had unchanged or higher opinions of Nike. The company’s stock reached an all time high following the Kaepernick ad: $85,000 per share on Sept. 21.

Whether or not the increase is due to a desire for activism, increased media attention or just because people want sporting goods, one thing is for sure: the world of sports will always have controversy, and it’s up to the people what happens next.