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I Fell Into A Nike Ring Of Fire

September 21, 2018
Paris may not be burning, but plenty of Nike athletic shoes are ablaze on the internet. Angry people are filling their shoes with gasoline and posting their Nike Molotov Cocktails to the web.

The fiery footwear is in response to Nike hiring the NFL's Colin Kaepernick for its "Just Do It" advertising campaign. Kaepernick is under attack for taking a knee at football games during the national anthem to protest treatment of blacks by law enforcement.

Kaepernick is now a quarterback without a team. He does have a great Nike ad: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." The ad infuriates football fans, including the President of the United States who is all on board with the hashtag: #BurnYourNikes.

I have two pair of Nike shoes in my closet. I got a great deal on them at an outlet mall in Warrenton, which is now a ghost town. I want to start a campaign of my own, hashtag: #QuitBuildingMalls.

I thought about torching my Nike shoes, but I'm afraid to "just do it." They are held together by tubes of highly flammable Shoe Glue. They could blow up. I did want to burn them after I learned the shoes were made in sweat shops by poorly paid Asian workers.

However, if I burn them now, people will think I am in league with those who hate Colin Kaepernick. The truth is that I support his free speech and I'm struck by the marketing genius of Nike. Its stock and shoe sales have soared.

A business article last week noted the genius of Nike for spurring passions for its product; for knowing its target market is young folks across the globe (not old white guys); and, for scoring a touchdown with "strategic public relations."

The amount of time and energy that POTUS has spent tweeting about the NFL, Kaepernick and Nike is just sad. Doesn't a U.S. President have better things to do? Is his feigned outrage some kind of "strategic public relations" for a base that cannot stand the sight of an uppity Colin Kaepernick?

People act like Kaepernick's actions are unprecedented personal insults directed at them. In fact, his kind of protest may have originated right here in St. Louis in the late 1960s, thanks to Dave Meggyesy of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Outside linebacker Meggyesy was adamantly opposed to the Vietnam War. He grew his hair long and protested. As the anthem played before games, he refused to salute the flag as was customary. He kicked the ground in disgust.

Meggyesy caught hell from coaches. A few fans yelled: "You commie, why don't you go to Hanoi?" It's all recounted in his book, "Out Of Their League."

America is a strong country because of free speech and its Constitution. It survived Meggyesy and it will survive Kaepernick. I am not sure it can survive leaders more interested in decorum on the football field, than crucial issues such as health care coverage, climate change or safety in our schools.

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