Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Kaepernick/Nike | Lefsetz Letter

No one in America likes to sacrifice. Their idea of risk is creating a new business. Just as long as they stay out of the mainstream, never move back on the game board, present a bland face so as not to get caught in the undertow. You know who you are, the people who are unwilling to go on the record, who send me e-mail with “name withheld.” You’ll only speak your truth anonymously. Online fake identities are rampant. Everybody feels immune.

But they’re not.

If you’ve been scoring at home, you’re aware that Nike was caught up in the #MeToo movement. So one can say this campaign burnishes its image with women. Then again, not all women voted for Hillary, not all women are concerned with the rights of minorities.

Furthermore, some brands are beyond reproach. Switching athletic gear is like telling people not to eat at In-N-Out, it’s not gonna work.

Meanwhile, these billboards are going to permeate the country for eons. Well, at least weeks, unlike the latest musical projects. Maybe it’s only corporations who can gain sustained mindshare in today’s marketplace. Maybe it’s beyond the power of any individual, other than maybe David Hogg, who’s taking a gap year to extend his anti-gun/Parkland reach.

Everyone’s afraid. Especially corporations. The mea culpas are rampant. They’re afraid of repercussions. Just ask Harley-Davidson, they move production overseas to save the company and they don’t stop being excoriated. You don’t want to get caught in the crosshairs, you go along.

Kinda like the tariff situation in general. We don’t see giant corporations standing up to Agent Orange for fear of backlash. But if you’ve got no backbone, we lose trust in you. Just like Google and its own employees. Google wants to work in China, at what cost?

We’re looking for leaders, we’re looking for inspiration, and what we find is celebrities hawking goods, getting caught in shenanigans by TMZ. And then we have Colin Kaepernick standing up for what he believes, not getting caught in any faux pas and risking his career, never mind his salary. Meanwhile, his collusion lawsuit goes forward. The NFL should be afraid, very afraid, it’s losing its hold as the sport of America. Not only with the CTE issue but the fact that the owners are reinforcing racism with their plantation mind-set. That’s right, most of the players are black. Who cares if they’re paid a lot. First and foremost they’re people.

And you can sit at home and say you’re not gonna watch. But ironically the most racist people are the ones who cannot give football up, it’s a religion.

And now Nike weighs in.

Field and track never got any respect. That’s how Nike got started.

Sure, Kanye is selling sneakers, but that’s fashion, not performance. Nike is all about performance, a shoe for every event. That’s the company’s image. Remember the concept of standing for something, other than ripping the people off?

And Nike’s record is not perfect, but they’ve done a very good job of protecting athletes, standing by them, The record label may drop you and forget you, but Nike soldiers on, even after Michael Jordan leaves the basketball court.

So where does this leave us?

Nike is not only calling the NFL’s bluff, but Donald Trump’s too. Standing up to the big bad bully. Isn’t that what sports are all about? Aren’t sports high school on steroids?

You’ve been cowering, but someone’s got to say NO MAS!

Nike just did. People follow leaders. Expect more corporations to follow. And note that change starts with the individual. Curt Flood sat out and changed the face of baseball. Colin Kaepernick’s story is not about football, but the football mentality. The players are fungible, it’s only the coach and the owner that matter. You’ve got to sacrifice your identity for the team. It’s all about the team.

How’s the team been treating you?

It’s been taking away your health insurance.

Cutting taxes on the rich.

Letting citizens die in Puerto Rico.

It’s a long, hard way to the top, to change, but we’re getting there. Because one guy and one company decided they’d refuse to bend.

Are you bending?

Are you willing to give up your gas guzzler?

What are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good?

It feels like the sixties all over again.


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