I’m going to be up front and say that I’ve never been a big fan of sports. Lord knows, I’ve tried to be though. I’ve sat through games of all kinds and in all mediums. Local games in my home town, UK games from the comfort of my favorite pub, the Superbowl from the comfort of my favorite couch, etc. They’re just not interesting to me in any way. With that knowledge in mind, this is probably going to piss some people off a little more than it was already. But then again, it was going to piss some people off regardless. So I’ll just jump right into it.
My lack of sports knowledge hasn’t isolated me from the storm of controversy that’s erupted over the NFL protests. I’m active on social media, I’ve seen the mouth-frothing reactions to the protests. “They’re disrespecting the troops! Why do they hate our beautiful, radiant national anthem?”, they cry out through Facebook posts. But it’s never been about the troops or the anthem. It’s about police brutality and racial injustice. Kaepernick himself even discussed what would be a respectful form of protest with veteran Nate Boy- er. To those against the protest, it’s a black and white issue. There’s no changing their minds about it. Even if I personally think it’s an absolutely stupid opinion to have, it’s one these people are entitled to have. No one said they had to watch the games or support the players. What I don’t understand is the new controversy surrounding Kaepernick’s new role as a spokesperson for Nike. To put it bluntly, why the hell are you people burning your shoes?
Kaepernick himself hasn’t played a game since 2017, as his protests are seemingly what led to his ouster from the NFL. This is reflected in the ad from Nike. A stark, black and white closeup of the athletes face captioned with “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. Since the ads release last week, conservative social media has been set ablaze. People are burning their Nike shoes, cutting the swoosh off the top of their socks, covering the logo with tape marked with Reebok and much more. They say this is to stick it to Nike for supporting that traitorous athlete who would dare insult their beloved anthem. The only problem is that they’re not actually sending a message to Nike. Destroying their apparel isn’t going to magically pull the hundreds of dollars they’ve spent on it away from Nike.
This isn’t the first time people have gone to destroying their possessions in order to protest a company. Remember the infamous massacre of innocent Keurig coffee makers after the company pulled ads from Sean Hannity’s tv show? It was stupid then and it was stupid now. “It’s a boycott” they claim while smashing their own private property or buying Starbucks to protest Starbucks. If they want to boycott all these products, then they should actually boycott them. Don’t burn those Nike high tops, just don’t buy them in the first place. This destructive behavior has done nothing to affect the sale of these products. In the end all they’re doing is destroying their own property and making asses of themselves in the process.
To only talk about the mental bankruptcy of these “protests” is to skim over the moral bankruptcy of them. There are estimated to be 553,742 homeless in America. Veterans, the very people these protests are allegedly in the name of, make up 39,471 of these homeless people. Those are all people that would be more than happy to take those Nike shoes, and are much more deserving. It’s not like it’s hard to donate goods that you don’t want. There are Goodwill stores all over the country that take these donations. It doesn’t even take long to do it. To throw away these items isn’t just wasteful, it’s cruel.
There is nothing productive in the burning of shoes. Whatever strategy these people think they’re using, it isn’t working. Nike online sales have gone up 30 percent since the ad dropped and a spokesperson has said that they have big plans for Colin Kaepernick in the future. I personally have been wearing my Nikes loud and proud since the controversy has erupted; not only in solidarity with Kaepernick’s cause, but also in one of my own. Destroying your stuff is stupid. It’s not proving a point, and it’s sure as hell not making you look like some sort of ultra-patriot martyr. So please, even if kneeling NFL players makes your blood boil, don’t burn those Nikes. There’s someone else out there in desperate need of them.