Students respond to controversial Nike ad

Gracia Hmelar, Managing Editor

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a subject of controversy after clothing brand Nike released an ad of the athlete’s face with a message across his face: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The ad has angered many people, including President Donald Trump, who feel that by featuring him in the ad, the brand is promoting his “antagonism” against the U.S. Conversely, the ad has also gained a substantial amount of support from people who believe the ad successfully portrays the positive effects of protesting and standing up for what one believes in.

The ad has sparked the attention of many high profile athletes like Serena Williams and Lebron James, who have come out and openly supported it. The ad has also caught the attention of many Paly athletes for different reasons.

Paly senior Walker Rosenthal, a wide receiver on Paly’s varsity football team, is one of the many students who took notice of the ad and supports the brand’s choice to feature a controversial figure like Kaepernick in it.

“I think it’s a strong choice by Nike to choose him for their ad campaign, and I think it’s drawn a lot of support from lots of athletes, like Lebron James and Dwyane Wade,” Rosenthal said. “I know the president doesn’t support it — he was bashing Nike for doing that and saying it wasn’t very patriotic — but in general, I think it’s okay for Nike to sign an athlete who has controversy around him.” 

Junior Sam Pao, a member on the Paly girls soccer team, says she doesn’t approve of the shoe-burning protests that ensued in response to Nike’s choice of featuring Kaepernick. 

“I think it’s stupid that people are burning their Nike stuff because Nike is being fair and getting a variety of opinion,” Pao said.

Senior Yasmeen Gavande is one student who disagrees with the brand featuring Nike in the ad and deems it disrespectful towards the U.S.

“It’s offensive to those who actually sacrificed their lives for this country; Nike could have chosen to put a war hero on there but instead put Kaepernick who has already offended veterans by kneeling for the anthem,” Gavande said. “The whole thing is stupid in my opinion.”

In response to the ad, some people have begun to show their discontent by cutting off the Nike swoosh from their socks and even started to burn their shoes, according to NBC News. The mayor of small town in Louisiana ordered a ban on the use of Nike products in the city’s recreational facilities, according to the Huffington Post.

Trump responded to the ad on Sept. 5, tweeting: “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!” 

He also tweeted on Friday morning, “What was Nike thinking?”

Kaepernick has been an NFL free agent for the past year, after receiving major backlash for kneeling during the national anthem, protesting in the fall of 2016 against perceived racial inequality and police brutality against black people. In early 2017, he decided to get rid of his contract with the 49ers, and since then hasn’t been hired by any other team, according to The Wall Street Journal

Since the ad, the brand’s stock has suffered a drop of three percent, while the company’s yearly stock is still up 30 percent, according to CNN Money. Despite the stock price drop, the company’s sales have increased by 31 percent since the ad came out, according to TIME Magazine.