Kaepernick’s Nike deal is about more than sports

On Monday night, Nike launched its 30th-anniversary ad campaign. It was received to some’s liking and to other’s anger. Nike has always been able to stir discussion in its campaigns, but this one got even more people talking due to a commonly controversial figure being the focal point: Colin Kaepernick.

The ad was announced with a close-up photo of Kaepernick with a simple statement stapled in white letters; “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” In addition to this, Kaepernick will release his own apparel, including shoes, shirts and jerseys.

The campaign also featured other notable athletes, including Serena Williams, Shaquem Griffin and Odell Beckham Jr., but no one is grabbing attention quite as much as Kaepernick.

“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s Vice President of Brand said.

While some call him inspirational, others, including the President of the United States, look down on Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem. Saying that he has sacrificed everything after signing a multi-million dollar deal only adds more fuel to the fire. So, why would Nike make a person who is hated by so many the lead role to their campaign?

Former ESPN personality and current part of The Undefeated, Jemele Hill, showed the facts of Kaepernick’s impact when she tweeted, “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.”
The fact of the matter is whether you love or hate Kaepernick, you know who he is, and Nike making a splash like this most likely grabbed your attention. This is a player who was passed on by every team in the league, and yet will now be the face of the most popular sports brand in the world. It is Kaepernick’s platform that has made him the most suitable for this role.

This use of Kaepernick may rub some the wrong way. However, the truth is that both sides are getting what they want. Nike will attract the thousands of supporters, and Kaepernick will have his platform to continue his cause and will make a lot of money in the process.

It is worth noting that Kaepernick was a part of Nike since 2011, but this deal is brand new. Nike had sat on Kaepernick for the last couple years, not knowing what to do with the controversial figure. Now, Kaepernick has a deal similar to those of the top athletes across all sports.

This was a money-making move for both sides, made possible by the age of expression that we currently live in. As popular athletes under Nike, including LeBron James, became more outspoken on their beliefs, the door was opened for the brand to make a polarizing figure its new face. Therefore, whether you are angered by Kaepernick or look up to him, Nike did exactly what they sought out to do.

If it was not before, it is now clear that Kaepernick will not be going anywhere anytime soon, even if he isn’t playing football. As long as there is anger toward his cause, his campaign will continue. Both sides have their reasons for feeling the way they do, but it is about understanding each side to contribute to the betterment of society. This gives the platform for the conversation to continue.

Keith Egan is a visual and sound media and journalism major from Tinton Falls, N.J. He can be reached at keith.egan@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.