Colin Kaepernick turned heads around the world.
Colin Kaepernick turned heads around the world.

Nike boycott goes to next level

NIKE well and truly broke the internet with its latest campaign going all-in behind controversial athlete Colin Kaepernick.

The former NFL quarterback was the target of outraged fans after taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in 2016.

Thousands of conservatives all the way up to Donald Trump lambasted the 30-year-old's defiant gesture as "un-American" as fellow football stars joined in the protest.

So when the sportswear giant threw its weight behind Kaepernick in a simple black-and-white picture, they knew they'd be in for a wild ride.

Videos of proud Americans burning their Nike runners sprouted up on the internet within hours as outrage spread throughout social media.

But one American politician in Louisiana has just outdone the lot of them.

Kenner mayor Ben Zahn called for a complete ban of Nike products at any of the city's recreation facilities and announced every athletic product bought by taxpayer money must be approved before purchase.

"Effective immediately, all purchases made by any booster club operating at any Kenner Recreation Facility for wearing apparel, shoes, athletic equipment, and/or any athletic product must be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation, or his designee," his letter read.

A little bit of an over-reaction?
A little bit of an over-reaction?

It came after shares in the colossal company gained back all of the $3.3 billion (A$4.6 billion) lost in the first week of its Kaepernick campaign.

Nike shares traded as high as $82.44 on Monday - topping their pre-Kaepernick ad levels. Shares of the company closed at $82.10, up 2.2 per cent.

Nike's "core customer wants them to take a stand on social issues," NPD sports analyst Matt Powell said.

NFL players resumed kneeling protests during the pre-game playing of the US national anthem at Sunday's 2018 season openers as US President Donald Trump warned dimming TV ratings would plunge.

Miami Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during The Star-Spangled Banner and defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist during the song ahead of the team's season-opener against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

The protests for social justice and against racial inequality, started by  Kaepernick in 2016, continued for a third consecutive season and Kaepernick tweeted his praise for Stills and Wilson.

"My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed!" Kaepernick tweeted.

"They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward! Love is at the root of our resistance!"

Just hours before Sunday's game, President Trump tweeted about the dip in NFL ratings for Thursday's season-opening game compared to past seasons, hinting that players standing for the anthem could restore lost viewership.

"Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison," he tweeted on Sunday morning.

"Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!"

The decision by Colin Kaepernick, right, to kneel in protest against police violence has cost him his NFL career.
The decision by Colin Kaepernick, right, to kneel in protest against police violence has cost him his NFL career.

President Trump jumped on the issue a year ago at a rally in Alabama, calling any player who didn't stand for the anthem a "son of a bitch" who was insulting the nation and its military.

Players have steadfastly maintained their protest is aimed at social and racial issues, while Mr Trump has pushed for payers to be fired for disrespecting the flag.

NFL owners, who did not have a policy on the matter, passed a policy in May forcing players to stand for the anthem on the sidelines or stay off the field.

But the NFL Players Association filed a grievance over the policy, saying it denied members freedom of expression, and talks could not resolve the issue before the season began.

ESPN reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources, that there would be no new policy regarding anthem protests this season.

Kaepernick has sued the NFL on charges of collusion, saying owners have conspired to keep him from having a job since he became a free agent last year. This is his second season without an NFL job after his protest-launching moves with San Francisco in 2016.

Kaepernick was the focus of a new advertisement campaign by sportswear manufacturer Nike that made its national debut on Thursday's opening NFL telecast.

Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign, the message of the Kaepernick commercials is: "Believe in something. Even if it costs you everything."

Nike reported a 31% sales boost during the Labor Day holiday weekend this year over last year after the advertisement debuted online.

- with AFP


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