Buying a pair of athletic shoes shouldn’t be a political act. But Nike, the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes, thinks otherwise. And it might lose customers as a result. On Thursday evening, September 6, the company aired its widely anticipated two-minute “Just Do It”-themed ad on NBC-TV during the 2018 NFL season opener narrated by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who two years ago started the ritual “kneel-down” national anthem protests. He remains a factually-challenged moral exhibitionist who has built a cult upon the false claim that local police forces across the nation are murdering innocent blacks. The campaign might boost Nike sales in the short run, but market surveys suggest that it might not end well.
The National Education Association thinks Colin Kaepernick is an ideal role model. Many members, however, may take their loyalty elsewhere. And frankly, they should. On July 1, the NEA honored Kaepernick, along with several other persons and organizations, with a “Human and Civil Rights” award in recognition of the former pro-football star’s campaign “to fight racial oppression through education and social justice activism.” The born-again political revolutionary, who these last couple years has been peddling the idea that police are conducting a nationwide pogrom against innocent blacks, accepted the honor with predictable melodrama. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he said. “There are bodies in the streets.”
On the surface, it looks like a compromise. Underneath, it is a capitulation. Yesterday the National Football League and its 32 team owners announced the establishment of a new policy on the issue of player ‘kneel-downs’ during the playing of the national anthem to express solidarity with Black Lives Matter and other radical groups who see America as the land of racial injustice. While the policy nominally bars players from kneeling down on the sidelines and gives owners the latitude to levy fines against violators, it also allows players to protest by remaining in their locker rooms. This is not a resolution. Indeed, it is a guarantee of further political melodrama.
The National Football League, a model of fecklessness, has taken the art of surrender to a new level. Last Wednesday evening, November 29, a group of team owners and black players reached a tentative plan to divert at least $89 million over seven years to various radical organizations. The move, an effort to placate the now-ritualized theatrical pregame “kneel-down” player protests during the national anthem, was a gift to two groups in particular, the Players Coalition and the Dream Corps, the latter led by Van Jones, an Obama-era White House adviser. “No decisions have been made on where the money will go yet, much less all the money over the next seven years,” said NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart. His boss, Roger Goodell, meanwhile, won’t have to worry. Two days ago, he signed a five-year contract extension potentially worth $40 million a year.