Nike Learned Nothing From the Ratings Disaster the NFL Faced When It Embraced the Anthem Protesters

On Tuesday, it was announced that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be the face of Nike’s new ad campaign, and America immediately responded with either elation or complete derision.


As my colleague Thomas LaDuke wrote about earlier, the kneeling controversy that was sparked by Kaepernick caused the NFL’s ratings to dip. “Dip” is putting it lightly.

To put it more accurately, the NFL’s ratings tanked like a rock tied to an anvil that’s welded to an anchor.

During last season’s ongoing kneeling controversy, which saw some players kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL saw a drastic 33 percent drop in its ratings according to Yahoo Finance.

That group, which the survey labeled as “boycotting,” was asked why, and was given multiple options. Note: Respondents were allowed to select multiple answers; they were not asked which was the biggest factor, just which factors contributed. 

They answered as follows: 32% said they stopped watching or attending NFL games “in support of Donald Trump”; 22% said “in solidarity with players kneeling”; 13% said “no interest in the teams playing”; 12% said “in support of Colin Kaepernick”; and 11% said “news about traumatic brain injuries among players.” Another 8% said “games are boring.” 46% chose “some other reason.”


As the record shows, those protesting against the kneelers by turning off the games aside, even those who supported the kneeling seemed to tune out of NFL games.

What Nike is inviting with its embracing of Kaepernick is more of the same. The kneeling protests left a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans, many of whom took it very personally. What the kneelers thought they were doing is bringing attention to a problem, which would have been fair enough to do. However, how they were doing that was spitting at the face of people who fight for and protect our country. Those who gave their lives to protect it were consistently insulted as rich NFL players took a knee during the anthem that celebrates the country these brave souls died for.

Nike has now embraced this disrespect. It’s likely that it will now experience the same effect many other businesses who embraced social justice causes have experienced: “Get woke, go broke.”


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