Nike is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its legendary “Just Do It” campaign and this year they have selected high-level athletes involved in social justice movements. Serena Williams, LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick have all made their own impact in the sports world as well as in society. Nike made the bold decision to make Kaepernick the face of the campaign, and the response from the American public has been swift and divided.
Controversial forms of protest can be an effective way to shine a light on your cause, but they can also make you a target for detractors. Athletes for Hope founder Muhammad Ali spoke out against the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s and he faced tremendous criticism until many years later. Katherine Switzer was the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon and she was harassed and assaulted during her run.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the conclusion of the 2016 season. He made the decision to speak out against what he felt was wrong and millions of people have voiced their criticism and support for his actions. Kaepernick has fully funded a youth campaign called the “Know Your Rights Camp,” whose mission it is to raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios. More than two years after announcing his “Million Dollar Pledge” to this cause, Kaepernick successfully surpassed the $1 million threshold with help from fellow athletes, celebrities and the public.
Despite a divided American public, AFH believes that Kaepernick’s example will encourage more professional athletes, even those who disagree with his actions, to take action around the cause(s) they care about. AFH supports every athletes’ decision to stand up for what they believe in and to fight for what they feel is important.