Nike has come under fire after releasing an ad with football player Colin Kaepernick for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign, publicly supporting and figuratively “taking a knee” for the football player who has sparked intense debate across the nation.
The ad, which is a close-up black-and-white photo of Kaepernick, has the phrase, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt pic.twitter.com/SRWkMIDdaO
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
The ad has sparked discourse within and around the military community; service members, veterans, supporters and companies have taken to social media to point out that Kaepernick did not make the ultimate sacrifice and give up his life for his country, as many men and women who served in the U.S. Military have.
Kaepernick is a professional football player who began the trend of players kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and black inequality.
He has been a free agent and unsigned by a National Football League (NFL) team since March 2017. Kaepernick is alleging that NFL teams are colluding to keep him unemployed. There was recently a ruling in his favor that determined there was not enough evidence to dismiss his complaint, which the NFL had requested based on what it said was insufficient evidence to proceed.
The kneeling trend has continued for the past two years, including the 2017 football season as well as the current season.
Colin Kaepernick Featured in Nike’s 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ Campaign. #Kaepernick #Nike #JustDoIt https://t.co/xza1aQUZiH
— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) September 3, 2018
The kneeling protests took on a whole new meaning after President Donald Trump said during last football season that players should stand during the anthem or be “fired.”
Trump has called on players to stand and show respect to the anthem and flag. Otherwise, if any player kneeled during the national anthem, then that team’s owner should “fire that son of a b*tch.”
NFL owners had approved a new policy that allows players to stay in the locker room if they want to during the national anthem, but if they are on the field, the players must stand and show “respect for the flag and the anthem,” the NFL had announced.
The rule would issue fines to teams if players violate the new policy and kneel on the field or on the sidelines, and a 15-yard penalty was also being considered.
However, enforcement of the new rule is not happening until the league and NFL Players Association work out a compromise.
The news came in the wake of the huge controversy last year that rocked the NFL and football fans, after players began kneeling during the national anthem.
This year, there continues to be controversy surrounding the sport of football, especially after Nike released its ad.
People across social media platforms came out both against and in support of Kaepernick and Nike this week.
Organizations and individuals called for a boycott of Nike products, including the National Association of Police Organizations, TMZ Sports reported.
CEO Mark Parker wrote in a letter to Nike, “In featuring Mr. Kaepernick in the ‘Just Do It’ campaign, Nike grossly insults the men and women who really do make sacrifices for the sake of our nation,” TMZ reported.
“We are calling on all our member officers, their families and friends to join in boycotting all Nike products,” Parker added.
Many protestors claimed they were burning their Nike sneakers or ripping the “swoosh” logo off their socks, and the hash tag “boycott Nike” on Twitter contained numerous responses both for and against the company’s move.
Others said they support Nike and Kaepernick, and have even purchased new Nike sneakers because of the ad.
“Probably wouldn’t have bought them if not for [Kaepernick],” one Twitter user wrote.
Just bought a new pair of new @Nike golf shoes this morning! Beauties aren’t they? Probably wouldn’t have bought them if not for #kaepernick as I have 6 pairs of shoes already. Go Nike! you’re the best 👍 pic.twitter.com/kvbdCpwj87
— Tim Yorke (@RETR074) September 4, 2018