July 18, 2019 | 81° F

EDITORIAL: Backlash to Nike ad is misguided

Kaepernick’s reasoning is often overlooked by opposition


Colin Kaepernick is now the face of Nike’s new “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign. A black and white image of Kaepernick’s face is the backdrop for an objectively inspiring statement — “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” But, as was likely foreseen, Nike has received backlash by many who disapprove of Kaepernick’s kneeling for the national anthem. A #NikeBoycott Twitter movement was sparked in the wake of the ad, and Nike’s stock has gone down since its release. 

On Tuesday, New Jersey’s largest police union tweeted a response to the ad, which has since gained traction among those who are against Kaepernick. The tweet included a photo of Pat Tillman, a former NFL player who gave up a lucrative football career to join the Army Rangers and subsequently gave his life, with the same slogan that was used in the Kaepernick ad. The point of the Tillman response was supposedly to show that there are some who have given more for their cause than Kaepernick has — namely their life. And there is no doubt that Tillman was a strong, brave and proud American who indeed sacrificed his life for his belief in American values. But that fact does not detract from the inspiration one can derive from Kaepernick — especially people of color — who also gave up his career for a cause he saw as bigger than himself. 

There seems to be a pattern of certain groups — those who oppose Kaepernick’s protest — ignoring the actual point when it comes to this issue. The idea that his kneeling began as some crusade to disparage law enforcement, the military and the national anthem is illogical, and those who say this are either willingly or ignorantly allowing his actual point in taking a knee blow swiftly over their head. Kaepernick originally sat for the anthem, but after meeting with a United States Green Beret veteran Nate Boyer and discussing the deeper meaning of the protest, he subsequently began taking a knee. The act of taking a knee was explicitly meant to show respect for those who serve and who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of this country — kneeling was essentially meant to symbolize a flag at half mast. 

“... We were talking to (Nate Boyer) about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country,” Kaepernick said to ESPN back in 2016. 

Ignoring the real point of Kaepernick’s kneeling — which was to shed light on his unwillingness to stand for perpetuation of social and racial injustice — is characteristic of those who also ignore those very injustices. The kneeling was never meant to have anything to do with the United States military, its veterans or its personnel, yet people continue to bash Kaepernick and other players who choose to take a knee as if doing so was meant solely to discredit those groups. To ignorantly divert the subject in such a way is merely to refuse to discuss the perceived social and racial injustices that Kaepernick and many current NFL players seek to foster discourse about. Neither the United States’ government nor its people are infallible, and we can always do better as a nation. Until more people realize this, we will continue to sit in a stalemate with regard to this issue. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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