Local voices in the national Nike conversation


At this point most everyone has at least heard about the controversial new Nike ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As the national conversation surrounding Nike and the athlete ramps up, it is worth asking how this impacts those in San Angelo and by extension the Concho Valley.

People across the United States are expressing a range of opinions, with the more ardent taking to destroying their Nike apparel to protest Nike’s implied support of Kaepernick’s protest.

As Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick makes his pre-campaign rounds in west Texas, he spoke briefly on the topic while in San Angelo. “I think it’s disgraceful what they’ve done,” Patrick said. “They’ve held this person up as a hero, just because he took a knee. I put a Facebook post up […] about a San Francisco 49er, who was also born in 1987, who was also drafted in the 3rd round – who quit the NFL and became an Army Ranger. That’s who Nike should have as ‘Just Do It,’ not Colin Kaepernick.”

For those living, working, and attending school in San Angelo it largely seems like the issue hasn’t factored into their day to day discussions. For the few we spoke with who did have something to say on the topic, whether they agreed with Kaepernick’s form of protest or not, or with Nike’s signing of the athlete or not, the consensus was that the clipping and burning of Nike apparel was both wasteful and misguided.

Travis Seger, an Angelo State University Criminal Justice Major, espoused the stance that while inarguably Kaepernick’s First Amendment right, his manner protest is disrespectful to veterans. But, he balanced that out against the Nike issue saying, “for starters I find the protest, by cutting up and burning your Nike’s, I kinda find it useless. You’ve already paid your money to them you know, you’re not hurting them financially in any way.”

That sentiment was echoed by others, including Rachel Hawkins, an ASI Music Major who said, “donate your stuff to charities; like there are plenty of people who can’t afford Nike or name-brand stuff…or clothes for that matter. So, just donate it instead of being…Ignorant?” On the matter of taking a knee though Hawkins felt that Kaepernick’s protest was and is necessary to bring attention to the issues which still need solved sooner rather than later. Another ASU student, Finance Major Zachary Winslett stated that he felt Kaepernick’s protest is acceptable. Elaborating further he said, “I think it’s honestly, the people that are cutting up the Nike products and all that, that’s kinda hypocritical in a sense. You know they’re getting really, really offended over something that is part of American life.”

While this discussion seems far from over, and while no major consensus of opinion on the issues seems to exist, it is clear that many believe there is a more productive way to handle the discourse and arrive at where we need or would like to be.

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