By now, it’s probably fair to assume that a large part of America is not accepting with open arms the decision by Nike executives to showcase Colin Kaepernick as one of their spokesmen.
Shortly after Nike released its latest Kaepernick endorsement, the company’s market value plummeted $3.75 billion, according to TheWrap.
The reaction across the nation was as harsh as it was on Wall Street, with some calling for boycotts and others burning their Nike products and posting on social media.
As you might expect from this hero’s widow, she found the message from Nike offensive, as did many Americans. The theme of Nike’s new ad campaign, superimposed on a close-up photo of Kaepernick, reads: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
“The most scathing critique of the new ad campaign, however, came from the widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle. Chris Kyle served as a Navy SEAL sniper during multiple tours in Iraq and was awarded a Silver Star and four Bronze Star Medals. Kyle was tragically killed by a mentally ill man he was mentoring in 2013,” The Daily Caller reported.
The full response, posted on Taya Kyle’s Facebook page, is worth the read, and should inspire any of us as we honor our fallen American heroes.
“Nike, I love your gear, but you exhaust my spirit on this one. Your new ad with Colin Kapernick, I get the message, but that sacrificing everything thing…. It just doesn’t play out here. Sacrificing what exactly? A career? I’ve done that both times I chose to stay home and be with my kids instead of continuing my business climb… and it wasn’t sacrificing everything. It was sacrificing one career and some money and it was because of what I believe in and more importantly, who I believe in.
“At best, that is all Colin sacrificed… some money and it’s debatable if he really lost his career over it. Maybe he sacrificed the respect of some people while he gained the respect of others. Or maybe he used one career to springboard himself into a different career when the first was waning. I don’t know. What I do know is, he gained popularity and magazine covers he likely wouldn’t have gotten without getting on his knees or as you say, “believing in something.” I’m also thinking the irony is that while I am not privy to the numbers, it’s likely he gained a lucrative Nike contract. So yeah… that whole ‘sacrificing everything’ is insulting to those who really have sacrificed everything.
“You want to talk about someone in the NFL sacrificing everything? Pat Tillman. NFL STARTING, not benched, player who left to join the Army and died for it. THAT is sacrificing everything for something you believe in.
“How about other warriors? Warriors who will not be on magazine covers, who will not get lucrative contracts and millions of followers from their actions and who have truly sacrificed everything. They did it because they believed in something. Take it from me, when I say they sacrificed everything, they also sacrificed the lives of their loved ones who will never be the same. THAT is sacrificing everything for something they believe in.
“Did you get us talking? Yeah, you did. But, your brand recognition was strong enough. Did you teach the next generation of consumers about true grit? Not that I can see.
“Taking a stand, or rather a knee, against the flag which has covered the caskets of so many who actually did sacrifice everything for something they believe in, that we all believe in? Well, the irony of your ad..it almost leaves me speechless. Were you trying to be insulting?
“Maybe you are banking on the fact we won’t take the time to see your lack of judgement in using words that just don’t fit. Maybe you are also banking on us not seeing Nike as kneeling before the flag. Or maybe you want us to see you exactly that way. I don’t know. All I know is, I was actually in the market for some new kicks and at least for now, I’ve never been more grateful for Under Armour.”
Every Nike executive who approved the Kaepernick campaign should have to read those words.
I’m worried that we have become weak and our ideals of heroism have become distorted over the decades. Our culture is all too willing to throw admiration and praise at things that are not truly extrordinary.
Tayla Kyle is absolutely on target about what real sacrifice is and what it’s not.
Idolizing sports figures for their performance on a playing field — or playing in the field of politics — does not deserve the kind of worship promoted in this latest Nike advertisement.
As an athletic wear company pays millions to a washed up former football star, we could all do well, including Nike, to remember the words of Tayla Kyle about real sacrifice:
“That whole ‘sacrificing everything’ is insulting to those who really have sacrificed everything.”
Nike might sell more shoes with a few less insults … and a lot less hypocrisy.
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