Nike, the global brand that sells billions of shoes and other sports equipment every year, would not be possible without the freedoms of the United States. It started in Oregon as Blue Ribbon Sports, importing and selling Japanese shoes before designing its own. It flourished and become one of the most successful American brands in the world. Nike could use that brand power to be an advocate for American values, if it shared them.
Nike has thrived under American freedoms but over the past few years, as it went woke, it signaled that it was growing skeptical if not even hostile to its home country.
There was, most notably, its decision to hand former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick a $50 million contract after he knelt during the National Anthem to protest, he claimed, police brutality. Kaepernick’s activism since then has made clear that he was protesting America itself. Nike has kept him on and paid him more month each month than many Americans make in a decade.
Nike recently held its quarterly earnings meeting. It has run afoul of the Chinese Communist Party for criticizing that party’s ghastly and racist slave labor practices. This criticism has put deals with China in jeopardy, putting a lot of money at risk. It’s put Nike in the position of making a choice.
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China,” CEO John Donahoe told Wall Street analysts last week in response to a question about competition from Chinese companies during a call about fourth-quarter earnings, the BBC reported.
That’s pretty clear. Donahue added that Nike always takes the “long view,” which in this context looks back at Nike’s 40 years in China and can be taken to mean that in the long run, he believes China will eclipse the United States.
Or he’s simply bowing to China’s brutal communist masters for the sake of making more money, hoping that Americans don’t get wind of comments or have problem with them.
Or a bit of both.
During June, Nike has pretty much rejected the American flag as a symbol of inclusion.
One flag can’t represent us all. So we’re telling the stories of not one, but the multiple communities on a journey to self-discovery.
— Nike (@Nike) June 15, 2021
Who says one flag can’t represent us all? Nike and the woke, including athletes who want to compete at the Olympics not to represent America but to use the moment to despise it.
Wall Street seems fine with Nike’s choice.
The company’s shares rose by more than 14% during after-hours trade in New York.