Kaepernick’s Nike ad shows he’s winning the national anthem protest battle
September 5, 2018
Colin Kaepernick just won the kneeling-during the national-anthem debate.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is narrating and featured in a Nike television commercial that debuts on the national airwaves during Thursday, Sept. 6's NFL opener — Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles on NBC — and is already making the rounds on the Internet.
As the ad leaked out, the outrage over Kaepernick began anew with some burning their Nike gear. While I really don't understand the point of torching clothing you've already bought — stupid is as stupid does? — these same people are threatening to boycott Nike.
It won't work.
We've gone over this a few times, but it bears repeating. Kaepernick was not protesting the anthem, the military, Mom, apple pie, Chevrolet and everything American when he first sat during the national anthem back during the 2016 preseason.
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He was protesting the treatment of minorities in this country, particularly at the hands of the police. In fact, to address the fact he is not disrespecting the military he met with Green Beret Nate Boyer and decided to take a knee, instead of sitting during the anthem because they agreed that it was more respectful to the military.
Since the right, led by President Donald J. Trump, didn't want to and can't address Kaepernick's grievance of minorities being treated poorly — and, yes, minorities do get the short end of the stick — they successfully spun the narrative into spoiled-black-athlete-hates-America.
After the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and has essentially been black-balled from the NFL. While he is suing the league for collusion, there is also a look at the quarterback depth charts as the season begins.
The Bills are starting Nathan Peterman this weekend, ahead of Wyoming's Josh Allen, presumably the franchise's future quarterback. Peterman threw five interceptions during the first half in his first start last season against the Chargers, a 54-24 loss. But Peterman is a better quarterback, in the estimation of the NFL, than Kaepernick, who threw five interceptions between the regular and postseason — 16 starts in total — during the 2012-13 season in which he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl.
Despite the NFL's apparent opposition to Kaepernick, Nike is nonetheless running an ad featuring the quarterback during the league's opening weekend.
Of course, it's getting lot of attention and sports writers around the country are writing columns on the advertisement. We'll stipulate that.
But remember that Nike isn't the ACLU, or any other special-interest group. It's a Goliath of a company, whose purpose is to make money hand over fist by selling shoes and other sporting equipment.
Nike isn't siding with Kaepernick because it thinks he's right. The company is siding with him because it thinks it can make money by doing so.
The future is here
Watch the ad. It features Odell Beckham Jr., the U. S. Women's National Soccer Team, LeBron James and Serena Williams among others, not exactly Trump's voting base.
That's because the future of sports and our country is not cranky old white guys, who have racial tendencies. It's about an America where people come from different places and have different ways of thinking.
Nike, not a particularly noteworthty corporate citizen with allegations of sweatshop working conditions and using child labor in the past, made $4.24 billion in 2017.
The company's founder, Phil Knight, ain't a snowflake either. According to cbssports.com, he donated more than $140,000 among the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a super-PAC for Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) during the 2016 campaign.
Nike is about making money, and it's betting that most consumers think Kaepernick is doing the right thing, and will continue to buy its product. Nike is the master of marketing. It does not make mistakes. Colin Kaepernick is winning, people.
But if you want to burn all your Nike stuff, start with your Broncos gear.
Yes, it's made by Nike.
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