Nike “sacrifices everything” with Kaepernick campaign


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Kaepernick, number 7, played for the San Francisco 49ers until 2017.

Lakshya Vegiraju and Quinn Hoagland

Months after the Colin Kaepernick Nike advertisement released, controversy surrounding the international commercial still remains. A debate between lack of patriotism and upholding First Amendment rights continues.

Two years ago, in September 2016, Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem prior to playing a game as quarterback for the NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in his first press conference after the preseason game, “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Nike gave Kaepernick a platform to further his civil rights agenda, but many people who disagreed with the message, mainly right-wing conservatives, burned Nike apparel in response. According to the Washington Post, a rebellion started by igniting shoes, sweatshirts and gear and posting it on social media using the hashtag #BoycottNike in response to the advertisement.

Nike sales skyrocketed 31 percent after the ad was released, effacing the damage done through the campaign against the advertisement, according to Time.

According to ESPN, in 2017, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers and he remains a free agent in 2018. According to SBNation, Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners for collusion and believes he was blacklisted by the organization.

Senior Tali Petto of Marlboro said that Kaepernick was mistreated by the NFL but does not think that the grievance will make any substantial changes.

“The whole situation is messy and both sides have reasons to be right. Kaepernick’s grievance I don’t think is going to change the mind of the whole NFL,” Petto said.

Sophomore Zoe Conner-Bennett of Ocean said that Kaepernick’s grievance against the NFL was justified.

“He is just trying to get the respect he feels like he deserves,” Connor-Bennett said. “It is hard to know all the facts, but it seemed like he is just trying to get a fresh start.¨

The caption of the Nike advertisement is as follows: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” After almost two years of unemployment, Kaepernick now  stars in one of the biggest commercials of the year.

From a civil rights activist to an outspoken leader who inspired a movement to a People’s Choice Award’s “Game Changer” nominee, Kaepernick has expanded his audience and outreach to streamline the conversation about racial injustice in the United States.