Kneeling: Kaepernick Just Does It

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BY GRAHAM O’DWYER

News Editor

On Monday September 3rd at about 3pm, Nike launched its campaign for the 30th anniversary of ‘Just Do It,’ the company’s slogan. The footwear and clothing company was founded back in 1964 and has been rolling with the ‘Just Do It’ slogan for the past 30 years. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” reads the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ poster. The face of the campaign; former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick played in the National Football League until the 2017 season. He first became a household name among football fans when he helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl back in 2013. Kaepernick is now known by more than just football fans for his continued fight against social injustices in the United States.

Kaepernick is probably best known for being the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem in order to protest police brutality. His demonstration went on to start a movement within the league among other players to also kneel during the anthem.

Kaepernick did not start his protest by kneeling during the anthem though. Rather, he initially sat on the bench during the playing of the anthem back in a couple of 2016 preseason games. Eventually he decided to kneel instead of sitting to express more respect towards veterans and active duty members. U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer was the one who was able to convince Kaepernick to kneel instead of sit during the anthem.

“After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest,” said Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s ex-teammate, who regularly joined him in protest.

Kaepernick and the other players who joined him received positive response from some, but they also faced quite a bit of criticism from others. Kaepernick repeatedly heard criticism for his continued protest throughout the 2016/2017 season, as many viewed his movement as disrespectful to the country, flag, and, more specifically, to veterans and active duty members.

Currently Kaepernick is not playing professional football as no team decided to sign him last season. Another ongoing part of the story, because of teams refusing to sign the former starting quarterback, is the collusion case against the NFL. There is belief that teams will not sign Kaepernick due to the past protests and the fear that it might hurt the organizations image. This is still actively being investigated.

With Kaepernick not on a roster, he has been devoting his time to his movement and fight against social injustices and police brutality. That said, his name had not been in the headlines for a while. Kaepernick immediately reentered the spotlight on Monday when he announced on Twitter that he had partnered with Nike to promote the 30th anniversary of ‘Just Do It.’

On Tuesday, the day after the announcement of the campaign, Nike’s stock took a bit of a hit, initially dropping by about 3 percent. Nike’s stock has grown over 30 percent so far this year, so we will have to see how this setback affects the company down the road.

On Thursday, Nike aired the 30th anniversary commercial during the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons game, the opening game of the 2018/2019 NFL season. The commercial featured Kaepernick, of course, as well as other popular athletes, such as LeBron James, Serena Williams and Odell Beckham Jr. These athletes have been known to be vocal in regards to social issues and injustices.

Similar to Kaepernick’s kneeling protest, Nike’s campaign received both positive and negative reactions. A movement to boycott Nike was formed and some people began burning their Nike products and cutting out the company logo on their clothes.

Although Nike’s stock slipped at first, it has relatively stabilized over the past few days. Nike has also said that their online sales have gone up 31 percent since the company’s commercial aired on Thursday Night Football.

It will be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, seeing what direction the campaign moves next and how it affects the company as a whole over time.

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