Nike: Goddess of Victory (EP.60)



Nike was the Greek winged goddess of victory–victory both in war and in peaceful competition. The current international, yes, international, controversy intentionally generated by Nike with the hiring of former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick as its spokesman, is far more warlike than peaceful. (Nike employed about 74,400 people worldwide in 2017, with global revenues of more than $34B.)

Links and References

Racial or Racist?

Activists Don’t Want Peace

Off The Pigs


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Nike was the Greek winged goddess of victory–victory both in war and in peaceful competition. The current international, yes, international, controversy intentionally generated by Nike with the hiring of former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick as its spokesman, is far more warlike than peaceful. (Nike employed about 74,400 people worldwide in 2017, with global revenues of more than $34B.)

Let’s continue today’s podcast by separating what’s legal, for example things covered by the First Amendment, and the right thing to do. Legal is not always right, and the right thing is not always legal. What Colin Kaepernick and Nike are doing is legal, and wrong. What podcaster Alex Jones is doing on Infowars is legal, and also wrong.

When it comes to kneeling during our national anthem at NFL games, here’s what’s both legal and okay to do:

  • NFL teams, like all employers, are allowed to limit political actions, including protest, on their property during work hours.
  • Players, like all employees, can break those rules. The players risk consequences if they do. On the other hand, the teams may sidestep setting any rules or imposing any consequences in order to keep the players happy, and to keep making money.
  • Fans are allowed to make choices about going to games, watching on TV, buying NFL-branded swag and listening to or watching sports programs.

Bottom line: if players are allowed to kneel by their teams, fans are allowed to vote with their feet and their dollars. Everyone has those legal rights. There’s absolutely no argument here. The argument being presented in this podcast is how we should exercise those rights.

Nike’s tagline in the Kaepernick commercial is, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” When Kaepernick was benched in San Francisco, he was rated 32 out of 32 NFL quarterbacks–dead last. He was through, and he knew it. He was not sacrificing anything by kneeling; he was trying to jump from his current sinking ship onto another where his hoped-for notoriety might find a way for him to succeed now that his football career had entered a cul-de-sac. And it did; he found a new ship. Ignoring the pigs dressed as cops on his socks, much of the media and many people portrayed Mr. Kaepernick as a warrior who sacrificed an NFL career in its early stages to fight for social justice. He knew his football career was over, so he was trying on a different uniform, this time as a social justice warrior who, by the way, was the product of a very comfortable, upper middle class upbringing. But the new uniform, as ill-fitting as it was, was his best chance at another shot at the brass ring. He lives in a mansion, and was still being paid millions by the 49ers.

Initially there was a try to shakedown the NFL for money with the argument that all 32 teams were refusing to hire Mr. Kaepernick because of his kneeling. This argument was ridiculous on the face of it. There are always at least a handful of teams that are desperate for a new QB, the position on a team that can make the most difference if you make a change. It is impossible to make the case that not one of the teams in great need of a QB would break ranks and grab Colin–adding 2-3 wins to their season in a single stroke by upgrading at quarterback. And an improvement at that position can do at least that. Colin Kaepernick was an over-the-hill QB with baggage. Tim Tebow was an over-the-hill QB with baggage. No team wanted either man at QB. Still, the Denver Broncos offered Mr. Kaepernick a contract and he turned them down. It was for a reduced amount of money, and, importantly, a chance to prove himself. He wanted to keep being paid by San Francisco, despite knowing that he would never play there again. And he knew there was nothing he could do to prove anything on the playing field. So he kept getting paid, and stayed off the field to preserve the fiction that he was still a good QB, barred from playing by racist teams. Yup, the racist word was used frequently to describe the NFL’s efforts to keep Colin off the field. No one making the racist claim on Mr. Kaepernick behalf bothered to mention that over 70% of NFL players are black.

Then the magazine GQ put Kaepernick on its cover as its Citizen of the Year. Seems like the new social justice warrior uniform might indeed payoff.

And along comes Nike, the company named after the lady god. The same company that sells Air Jordan 10s for between $250 and $500 a pair, depending upon style and color. You know, the ones that cost $25-$35 to make overseas. They are fully aware their target market is young, male, not well off and skewed ethnically. Nike knows that by trotting out Mr. Kaepernick with a false claim about sacrificing everything for a social justice ideal, they will sell even more sneakers to people who should not be paying anything like that amount for shoes. This is not about social justice, this has nothing to do with real sacrifice. Real sacrifice includes starting players and leading actors who served their country at the heights of their careers. Real sacrifice includes parents who pour their time, money and energy into their kids and communities. Real sacrifice means giving up something real, something that you want that is within your reach, in order to help others. This mockery of real sacrifice is all about manipulating reality, and creating a demand for products, intentionally overpriced image enhancers, that do economic harm to all too many of their customers.

That’s Nike. And that’s Mr. Kaepernick’s new uniform. And they will both make a ton of money. “Ladies and gentlemen, the point is here that greed is good.” Famously said by Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko in the 1987 movie Wall Street. Updated 31 years later by Mark Parker, Nike’s CEO, and Colin Kaepernick in 2018. This has nothing to do with “sacrificing everything” for a worthy goal. It has everything to do with manipulating reality in the pursuit of money and fame.

This is not a call to boycott Nike, or boycott anybody. It is a call to be informed so that you can know when someone is misrepresenting reality for their advantage, and often to your disadvantage. This is not a call to burn your Nikes, this is a call to know who you are doing business with, and why. The is a call to be informed politically and economically. And the greater call is to act. It is no longer enough to be an informed voter. You must be an informed voter and activist. Yes, activist. Let’s take that word back.

Go ahead. Just do it!

Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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12 Responses

  1. Tim Larson Reply

    Thoughtful comment Will. I wasn’t, initially, going to read it. I’ve seen the ad; I like it. Unfortunately Nike picked a narrator who doesn’t represent much sacrifice, as you point out. You no doubt saw the news point that Nike’s sales were up 25% in the period following the ad; NBC reported a lift of 31% (according to a company spokesperson) and at least one analyst issued a ‘buy’ on the stock. All that despite an outcry that seemed to swell to “just dump Nike”.

    It’s unfortunate that our society has declined such that someone with a lack of substance becomes a key spokesperson for a household name brand.

    I won’t throw out my Nike hat – it’s my favorite one. But I’ll wear it less and am looking for a new favorite.


    • Will Luden Reply

      Tim, wow, speaking of thoughtful; thank you for your comments. I love the slogan, and liked the ad–right up until they revealed their exemplar. And since we are talking, indirectly, about football, the Nike ad is like returning a kickoff from your own end zone to the opponent’s 2, then turning around and grounding the ball in the the other end zone. The ad started out well, then utterly failed. Except, as you point out, with their target audience.

      I am in the process of rebranding my site to “A thought revolution.” And we’ll have swag, including hats…:).

  2. Charles Cabral Reply

    Isn’t a swoosh just a warped parenthesis?

  3. Paul Danish Reply

    “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” is an amoral statement. Chances are most members of the Wafen SS could readily agree with it, not to mention most members of the KuKluxKlan. Nike’s (and Kaepernick’s) attempt to portray it as some latter-day up-date of

    “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.” — Luther

    is both intellectually dishonest and decadent.

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