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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Nike Takes a Controversial Stand on NFL-Player Protests: A Foray into Unnecessary Risk

“Nike became Nike because it was built on the idea of rebellion,” Jemele Hill, a sports journalist wrote. “This is the same company that dealt w/ the NBA banning Air Jordans. They made [Michael] Jordan the face of the company at a time when black men were considered to be a huge risk as pitch men.”[1] Just days before the 2018-2019 NFL football season got underway, Nike threw “its weight behind one of the most polarizing figures in football, and America: former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.”[2] He had been a leader in the black players’ movement to protest, by kneeling during the national anthem, the recurring abuse of power by police. The element of financial risk in Nike’s decision to include Kaepernick in an advertising campaign brings up the question: should businesses take sides on political issues—particularly, on contentious ones?

1. Nathaniel Meyersohn, “Nike Takes Sides, Tapping Colin Kaepernick for New ‘Just Do It’ Ad,” CNN Money, September 4, 2018 (accessed same day).
2. Ibid.