Despite all the controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s emergence as the new face of Nike, that unmistakable swoosh was all over the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday, including on the right shoulder of each and every Saint. If the company logo ruined the experience for anyone in the boisterous opening day crowd, it didn’t come across on television.
Kenner has more delicate souls, apparently – or at least one of them. Mayor Ben Zahn didn’t explain in his Sept. 5 memo why he was suddenly ordering local booster clubs to have all their purchases approved by the city, but he made the underlying objective clear.
“Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility,” he wrote.
Now, booster clubs are not part of government, so that makes the move questionable on one level. These organizations should clearly have the right to buy what they see fit with the money they raise.
The much larger issue, of course, is whether any government should essentially censor the message that Kaepernick has spent the past couple of years highlighting, that racial injustice, including by police, remains a deep problem in this country.
A Kenner city councilman had harsh words Sunday in reaction to a memo widely circulated on social media appearing to show Mayor Ben Zahn calli…
That Kaepernick chose to draw attention by refusing to stand during the national anthem has caused some offense, which President Donald Trump has purposefully stoked. But he’s also joined a long line of African-American athletes who’ve used their prominence to promote social justice, often at a cost to their careers. Hence the slogan on Nike’s Kaepernick-centered ad campaign: “Believe in Something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Not everyone likes it, obviously, but the ad had prompted a huge spike in sales. Nike figured that this message would resonate widely, and it was clearly a good bet.
I’d suspect one place it resonates is Kenner, a diverse suburb where 25 percent of the population is African-American and 23 percent Hispanic or Latino, according the U.S. Census Bureau. The issues Kaepernick has highlighted are the same ones that some of those kids who play on those playgrounds may well face in life. This is not a game.
But it is a teachable moment. What a shame that the lesson from on high is that an important point of view should be shut down.