Nike: A Political Message Has Been Made

Rylee Cagle, Staff Writer

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 “To honor America, please stand for our National Anthem.”

   Such a simple prompt has aroused great controversy for the past two years, regarding respect for, and alternately protest against, a flag and a nation. This controversy has been heightened recently as a result of an ad campaign by Nike featuring Collin Kaepernick, a former NFL player who was the first of many to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest against discrimination and oppression of colored people.

   Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, first began protesting in the preseason of the 2016 NFL season. His first protests were made sitting, and didn’t gain attention until his third preseason game of the year.

   Confusion, outrage, and respect were among the mixed reactions to his protest. Those who opposed Kaepernick’s efforts generally believed that his actions were disrespectful to military people, to America, and to its ideals as a country. Those who supported him believed his actions brought light to an issue that they believed was constantly disregarded and ignored.

   “I do not have respect for anyone who kneels for our flag and national anthem because the fact that our country allows you to be able to do that [to kneel in protest] is exactly why you should have enough respect to not do that,” said Emily La Russa(11).

   Alternately Meghan Salmon (11) gave insight into why she personally supports Kaepernick’s efforts and what she believes is the reason others do as well.

   “…it’s [why some passionately support Kaepernick] because we finally feel like we’ve got somebody who’s big in media, has lots of influence, and is working for our goals,” said Salmon.

   Once his protests received recognition and gained momentum, Kaepernick was able to communicate his message. In sitting, and later kneeling, he was attempting to raise awareness for the systemic racism, police brutality, and unjust circumstances he believes are directly related to the United States government and the country as a whole.

   ”Some people twist it. They’ll say ‘it’s against the U.S’, ’it’s against the military’, ‘he’s a traitor’…whatever. I think it’s more for standing up for people who don’t have a voice themselves,” said Abigail Muse (11).

   After a year of personal protest and donations to various charities, the controversy pushed Kaepernick out of the NFL. Now, last month in September of 2018, Nike released an ad campaign celebrating its 30th anniversary. The ad featured none other than Mr.Kaepernick as the face of their slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

   As expected, the nation is divided in terms of reactions to the campaign. On the one hand, supporters praise Kaepernick as an American hero, and on the other, those who oppose his actions expressed dissent in their own way: burning Nike shoes and cutting up Nike socks.

   Though regarded by some as unconventional or extreme, Mr.Perry, a Heritage U.S. History teacher regarded this as just another form of protest.

   “I mean if you really are against it and that’s you voicing your opinion, go ahead! But I think it’s a little childish burning a perfectly good pair of shoes,” said Muse.

   As has become normal in our recent history, America and Americans are divided. La Russa regarded the Nike controversy as just another way for liberals and conservatives to disagree and argue, saying that each side is simply “on opposite spectrums.”

   Mr.Perry, weighed in with his thoughts, along with the same lines as La Russa, expressing that there is a lack of intellectual discussion and understanding among Americans.

   “Until these two groups come to an understanding or at least equilibrium, I don’t think we’re going to get very far. We need to look at how we are doing things as a society. Not how the police are, not the military, not the government, but we the people,” said Perry.