Nike supports equality through Kaepernick campaign


Timeline courtesy of Elizabeth Wolfe ’20

Elizabeth Wolfe '20, Supervising Editor

Kneeling during the pledge has been a longstanding issue in our country for over a year, grabbing the attention of football fans, activists and patriots alike. Since Colin Kaepernick has starred as the face of a new Nike ad campaign, tensions have heightened once again with many agitators burning their Nike shoes in protest, and with that, the stale criticisms of kneeling during the anthem.

With the issue finding its way into the media again, it’s important to discuss why this matter began in the first place.

No matter what side you agree with or who you support, everyone should understand the reality of the situation: kneeling was never intentionally directed at veterans. Perhaps this was an unintended consequence, but it’s been made clear time and time again, by Kaepernick and other players, that the protests were directed at police brutality and justice for people of color. In fact, according to The Independent, Kaepernick initially sat on the bench in protest but switched to kneeling as to show respect to veterans while standing up for his beliefs.

The #BoycottNike protest is continuing this outlandish idea that the protests are directed at veterans by lighting fire to their Nike shoes. What is most aggravating about this trend is its uselessness and carelessness.

If you find dislike Nike for this ad campaign, that is fine. Go to a different store and give your money to them, but don’t think burning your high-quality Nike tennis shoes that you already paid for will remotely hurt Nike.

It is true that Nike’s stocks fell after the release of the ad; according to CNN money, shares fell by nearly three percent. With that being said, according to Bloomberg, the company briefly regained 2.67 percent of their stock price, and on Sept. 10, their stock price had recovered greatly, nearly back to what it was prior to the release of the ad.

Veterans deserve our complete respect for everything they do for this country, and it’s saddening to see the hardships they endure not from these protests, but rather from when they return from service.

According to The National Alliance to End Homeless, while the number of homeless veterans has been nearly cut in half since 2010, they are still over-represented in the homeless population, with 39,471 veterans identified in 2016. Veterans are at risk for homeless due to potential low socioeconomic status, substance abuse, mental health disorders and other physical and mental injuries from their time serving, including traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These mental health issues go untreated in a great number of veterans; according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only half the veterans who need veteran mental health services receive such care.

If people are truly concerned for veterans, which they have reason to be, they’d be more helpful by donating to Federal organizations that are assisting in this matter and advocating for better mental health care. Maybe instead of burning their Nike shoes, they could give them to a veteran who doesn’t have any.

Both people of color and veterans deserve better respect in this country. These concepts shouldn’t have to compete with one another. People would rather hide behind the American flag than stand for what it really means: liberty and justice for all.