The news was quick to spread. Nike made the decision on the new face of their #justdoit campaign. A phrase that’s defined an athletic apparel company for decades was placed on the shoulders of a widely controversial football player. The company went so far as to say that their new face of Just Do It embodied what the phrase meant. But it’s not really that easy. Did Nike know what they were doing? Did they underestimate the impact this would have?
Undoubtedly the fallout will be fairly noticeable. Leaving the gym yesterday I heard more than one person say they were changing athletic apparel companies. It hit some people pretty hard. They were astounded that this company that’s been part of their lives for years would select such a controversial face for their marketing. Stock prices even dropped over 3% in short order on Tuesday. Pictures of men and women cutting the famous swoosh off of their clothing are floating around the internet. But what’s the real issue? Why are people so upset?
Some say it’s a racial thing. Others say it’s a marketing gimmick. But in my assessment it goes deeper than merely racial or even a simple marketing ploy. It’s about color to be certain, but not the color you’re thinking. The issue is about red, white and blue. The issue is the flag and what it means. The issue is about the reason we have the right to stand or kneel in the first place. It’s about real heroes and real men and women who know and feel sacrifice like many of us will just never understand. I don’t care what the ethnic background of the spokesperson is. I don’t their gender or skin color. But their heart, passion, drive and patriotism – now that’s another story!
I grew up in a generation that unquestionably stood for the national anthem. Men removed their hats. Everyone put their hand on their heart. We didn’t give a rip who sat in the oval office. We didn’t think about crime rates and injustice when we said the pledge or sang the national anthem. We did it because countless thousands marched into death’s door without our ever noticing. We stood and sang those words because they stood for something and still do. Those words spoke of victory in the midst of defeat. They hailed heroes among the fallen. The words evoked hope when it seemed all hope was lost. Those words are constant reminders of a world that will never be the same. Words that evoke emotion when paired with the blood of soldiers. Words that break our hearts when we see the tears of children who will never again see their moms or dads. Words that show why this country exists and for what it stands.
Undoubtedly Nike knew what they were doing. Maybe it was a marketing ploy that in the short-term will bite them in the butt. Maybe they’ll come out stronger because of it. But the flag isn’t about Nike. It’s not about a football player who’s out to make a name for himself. The flag isn’t about crime, racial tensions, violence, or political party. It’s about freedom that most certainly wasn’t free. It’s about a price that was paid to let you wear that Nike swoosh. It’s about lives laid down in the name of your freedom.
Today take a look at that flag. Look at those colors. As Americans, the colors on the flag are the colors that matter. These colors aren’t based on the color of our skin. The colors reflect the story of our great nation. Look at the red, white and blue. Reflect on the sacrifices that got us to where we are today. Never forget. Always remember Old Glory means something.