Over the Labor Day holiday weekend Nike launched its 30thanniversary campaign for the “Just Do It” slogan. The ad features former NFL player Colin Kaepernick—who has been a Nike pitchman since 2011—and the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
As I’m sure Nike expected, the Internet blew up. Yes, it is a marketing scheme, but it also aligns with Nike’s core beliefs. For decades they emblazoned their anthem across magazine ads and billboards, ball caps and tank tops. They have equally honored the toddler soccer player and the elite Olympian. Just Do It has always been about sacrifice, hard work, honor and teamwork. Just Do It is about never giving up and never giving in. In this moment in America, so tribal and partisan, Just Do It is about getting uncomfortable and standing up for what is right, especially when it is not convenient.
For those of you that are burning your Air Jordans in protest of Nike’s support of Kaepernick and his career ending knee-taking during the National Anthem, Don’t be surprised when your boycott doesn’t affect Nike’s bottom line; that they don’t issue a swift apology for upsetting you; that they don’t trash the campaign. They know their demographic and while you may buy their shoes and sports bras, you aren’t it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it; this country—after all—was built on the idea that freedom of expression is a right, not a privilege. Our forefathers believed in something, and they sacrificed everything so that we could have that right (Nike’s new ad campaign isn’t so new). That right, in fact, was so important to them that it is the First Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America. Not only do Americans have the right to free speech, we also have the right to peaceful assemble to air our grievances.
Nothing is more patriotic than peaceful protest. So, maybe you don’t like that Kaepernick aired his grievances during NFL games, but calling his actions unpatriotic is false. The flag is not what makes us patriots; standing, our hands over hearts, is not what makes us patriots; serving in our armed forces is not what makes us patriots. Believing in and honoring the ideals of what our founders meant for this great country to be, that is patriotic.
You know what else is patriotic? Loving your neighbor, helping the less fortunate and providing for the welfare of others. The frigid winter months will be upon much of this Nation soon and millions of homeless do not have the appropriate gear to protect them in the inclement weather. It is time for back-to-school, and many of our poorest American families cannot send their kids to class with a proper pair of shoes or enough clean clothing.
So instead of burning your Nikes, why don’t you donate them? By all means, never buy another thing from Nike. But, if you’re never going to wear that Nike hoodie you own again and you can’t stomach running a 5k in your Nike kicks anymore than make a real impact for another American, another patriot, and donate them to a local charity.
Only in America can you ask the IRS for a tax deduction for your $190 VaporMax sneakers you don’t want anymore. Just Do It.