Soon after Nike announced former NFL player Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, a lot of people across America started burning Nike products or throwing them into the garbage. People were actively sharing pictures and videos of them burning Nike products. That’s how they registered their displeasure with Nike’s choice of the former NFL quarterback.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Why are people burning Nike products?
On Monday, Colin Kaepernick tweeted his first advertisement for Nike, which sparked a flurry of hate comments against the brand and the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. People were using hashtags like #justburnit and #boycottNike to protest the latest campaign. John Rich, part of the country duo Big & Rich posted a picture of socks with Nike’s iconic swoosh cut off. His tweet has garnered more than 37,000 likes and 12,000 retweets.
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
Many others shared pictures of them burning Nike products or throwing them in the trash. Some shared an altered version of Nike’s ad to show Pat Tillman. For the uninitiated, Tillman had left the Arizona Cardinals to join the US Army. He was killed in 2004 in Afghanistan.
2/75 US Army Ranger and former NFL Safety Pat Tillman 🙏🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/fzwS0hPhz6
— Antonio Sabáto Jr 🇺🇸 (@AntonioSabatoJr) September 4, 2018
— AlterAtYeshiva (@alteratyeshiva) September 4, 2018
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
— Robbin Young (@Robbin_Young) September 4, 2018
Colin Kaepernick is now a free agent, and is currently pursuing a collusion case against the NFL. He gained political attention in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL games. He has since kneeled in several other games. He was protesting the racial inequality and the way the state police treated the black people. On-field and off-field protests inspired by Kaepernick continue even today.
In 2016, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Critics have accused the former NFL quarterback of disrespecting the national anthem, the American flag, and the military. President Donald Trump has even called for having the kneeling players like Kaeprnick fired.
People have a tendency to forget such controversies within weeks or months
People are outraged that Nike’s ad campaign not only features Kaepernick, but the tagline of the campaign also hints at the footballer’s political stand. The tagline is “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
It’s understandable that people are outraged, and are expressing their anger on social media. But why are they burning Nike products that they have already purchased? They have already paid Nike handsome money for the shoes, socks, and other gear they just burnt.
Surely peaceful protest is by definition a respectful act? – @Kaepernick7 @Nike Carry on the #JustBurnIt brigade, at the end of the day you're only hurting yourselves by destroying something you've already paid for, and in the process are giving more exposure to the protest. pic.twitter.com/J6Bgcs3p2u
— Garry Abbott #StandUp4Brexit (@GarryAbbott) September 5, 2018
The #BoycottNike just caught my attention.
You’re burning shoes you have already bought? That Nike already has your money for?
So they have your money and you have no shoes. @Nike thanks you for your campaign donation
— Twidmife RM (@Twidmife) September 5, 2018
While all you want to do right now is to protest by burning Nike products you own, there is a good chance you and everyone else will forget the current controversy in a few months. And you’ll be back in a Nike store buying all the shoes, socks, and other stuff.
Back in the 1990s, people criticized Nike over reports that employees at factories where its shoes were made were working in dangerous conditions for long hours. And they were receiving ridiculously low pay. The company pledged to get rid of illegal labor practices more than two decades ago, but employee protests continue occasionally even today. Nike says it doesn’t own or operate the facilities that produce its products.
Did people stop buying Nike products over harsh labor conditions? Nope. Its stock price has gone up more than 30 times since the protests about working conditions at the factories began. People, including the protesters, still buy Nike stuff.
For Nike, it made good business sense
Nike was fully aware what it was getting into by signing Kaepernick and standing by him. It makes good business sense. Maybe a bunch of people are burning Nike products to protest, but there are a lot of people buying Nike stuff to show their support. The company will produce Kaepernick shoes and T-shirts, and will also donate to Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” campaign.
I’m just here to remind folks that last year Colin Kaepernick was in the top 50 in NFL jersey sales, despite not being on a roster. Nike made a business move.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 3, 2018
On top of that, almost everyone on the Internet is talking about Nike. The buzz created by this controversy is only boosting its publicity. So, you first buy the Nike products, then burn them, then talk about Nike on social media, and then a few months later you buy new Nike products. Who is the biggest beneficiary in all this game? It’s definitely not you.
If you do want to show your support for the American flag and the national anthem, instead of burning Nike products, consider donating them to people who really need a pair of shoes or a T-shirt. They are your fellow Americans who actually need your support.