The Atlantic

The Absurdist Spectacle of the Nike Boycotts

The viral responses to the company’s new campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick reinforce the stakes of his protests—and misunderstand what motivated the brand in the first place.
Source: Eric Risberg / AP

Monday afternoon, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a tightly cropped grayscale photo of his face, emblazoned with a simple message: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Below Kaepernick’s lips, the Nike logo accompanied the company’s pithy slogan: “Just do it.” For Kaepernick, the “something” meriting a Sisyphean sacrifice has been addressing systemic racial injustice (most notably, police brutality), a platform he’s dedicated himself to advancing since he first began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem . In the time since, the have become a much larger movement, but the athlete behind them remains a much reviled figure even as he pledged—and then donated—. The free agent was not offered a.

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