When an athletic shoe company endorses a professional athlete for taking a political stance, it means business.
Well, yes. In the most literal sense.
Nike’s embrace of Kaepernick should not be viewed as them taking some sort of moral stand. It should be viewed for exactly what it is, for exactly what all marketing campaigns are — an attempt to persuade you into giving them your money. Nike ran the numbers and figured this would attract more customers than it would alienate.
Some might think that a cynical interpretation, but when just two years ago they put out an explicitly non-political marketing campaign, what other rationale explanation is there?
Athletes in major sports leagues have often been dismissed for expressing their political opinions, a leading example being LeBron James recently told by Laura Ingraham to “shut up and dribble” after criticizing the President in an ESPN interview.
Dismissed, notably, by pundits who disagree with those political opinions.
If he had been praising Trump instead, would Ingraham have had the same reaction? Of course not.
And if we employ her own logic, if LeBron shouldn’t publicly offer his political comments, does that mean Ingraham should abstain from offering her sporting commentary? Should she “shut up and pundit”?