Nike, Kaepernick and Jordan a long way from Michael Vick, Tyson and sweatshops

OUTCAST: Colin Kaepernick (centre), Eli Harold and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before a San Francisco home game in 2017.
OUTCAST: Colin Kaepernick (centre), Eli Harold and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before a San Francisco home game in 2017.

Opinion

Hey dude, let’s go burn our Nikes in protest against the shoe giant signing Colin Kaepernick!

And we’ll burn our Levi’s because its all-American-sounding boss Chip Bergh spoke out against gun violence. U! S! A!

And we’ll be naked and angry but at least we’ll be together in our hatred and our love of our own free speech. U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A!

Yep, lovers of a shoe culture built largely on African-American athletes are outraged Nike is featuring Kaepernick in an ad campaign with the slogan “Believe in something, even if it costs you everything”.

The shoe-burners preferred the good ol’ days. Back then Michael “Republicans buy sneakers too” Jordan floated above race and class politics, while not too far from Chicago Stadium South Side, poor kids were shooting each other for the latest Jordan Vs.

“Kap” was the first NFL player to sit, then kneel, during the national anthem to protest against the shooting of unarmed black people by police.

He’s been abused by the president and locked out of the league, and the NFL team owners drafted new rules banning kneeling during the anthem.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my Air Jordans. But if Nike gets to reinvent itself as an ethics leader, that would be almost as funny as the sight of frat boys burning their Huaraches

NIKE PLUS LEVI'S: This shoe will give you a lefty liberal foot fungus. Picture: www.flightclub.com

NIKE PLUS LEVI'S: This shoe will give you a lefty liberal foot fungus. Picture: www.flightclub.com

And almost as droll as poor Nestle warning you’ll pay more if the company is forced to report on efforts to prevent child labour and slavery along its supply chain.

Nike, of course, was the original sweatshop scandal, accused of allowing child labour and worker exploitation in Asia.

Nike happily featured convicted rapist and ear-biter Mike Tyson in a 2013 ad.

Nike re-signed football player Michael Vick after he got out of jail for his part in an illegal dog fighting ring. Nike’s uniform contract with Penn State University survived the Jerry Sandusky scandal, where coaches had hushed up his sexual abuse of boys.

But who can cast the first shoe? Certainly Adi Das sounds a lot nicer than the three stripes’ founder’s real name Adolf Dassler, himself a member of the Nazi party.

Nike’s outbreak of principles hasn’t been good for the share price but market capitalisation, like history, is a long game, even when America has whipped itself into a frenzy of division and hate.

Could it happen here? There’s no Fox News fanning the flames – but Sky After Dark is expanding into free-to-air, with impacts yet to be seen.

And let’s just remember what happened to Adam Goodes, the last sportsman who stood up to be counted on a racial issue.

PSST: Don’t tell Donald, or Andrew, or Ray, that there’s already a Nike shoe made in collaboration with Levis. That is surely a sign of the End of Days.