For want of a shoe, the protest was lost

I have to wonder what was going on in the boardroom for Nike, as they were figuring out their latest ad campaigns. When someone suggested former football player Colin Kaepernick as a model for the athletic gear company’s print campaign, did someone actually say “Just do it”?

Regardless of whether someone did or did not say it, Nike did it, further polarizing an already-polarized country. Fans of Kaepernick who believe he’s kneeling before the flag for social justice cheered and said they would buy Nike’s products. Meanwhile, Kaepernick’s foes raged at the news, so much so that some of them are ripping their shoes off their feet and burning them because they see the man as a face for disrespecting the American flag.

I could take the obvious route and take a stand on whether Kaepernick is a role model for America in light of the ongoing debate over whether football players should or should not stand up during the National Anthem. Everybody’s doing that, though, so it seems almost pointless for me to do so.

What I’d like to address is the waste — the waste in burning items that would otherwise be perfectly useful, if not for the Nike logo. What sense does it make to destroy items you no longer want that could be used by someone who is unable to afford them?

We’ve become this wasteful society that disposes of things as often as you change your socks. Globally, we discard a third of our food, and yet we have a problem with people going hungry. Cloth diapers have gone the way of the dinosaur as disposable ones are the baby butt cover of choice. Then of course, we toss our cellphones every year or two for the latest and coolest model.

Back to the shoes, though. How many of the folks who utilize SAM’s House have shoes that keep the snow and rain out? How many of those in need don’t even have shoes? There are plenty of organizations out there like Give Shoes, Give Love and Share Your Soles that would benefit from those shoes that you suddenly despise because they have a Swoosh from an organization that you believe has turned its back on American values.

I’ve seen a number of videos online where people, in their outrage, douse the shoes with lighter fluid and strike a match. Don’t they realize that the oil and matches would be better utilized in a backyard barbecue, cooking burgers and brats for you and your whole family? Like I said, wasteful.

While Nike’s stock took a hit shortly after the campaign launched and the furor came in like a hurricane, it’s doubtful that this collective temper tantrum with a slight chance of arson will ultimately be the end of Nike. Kaepernick’s despisers burned their jerseys when he first started his protest, along with the jerseys of anyone else who knelt during the anthem or locked arms, but I haven’t seen any word that the NFL has gone bankrupt — in fact, $134 million has been found to keep Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers for a few more years.

So you hate Colin Kaepernick. Fine. So you can’t bring yourself to wear something manufactured by a company that holds the man up as an American hero instead of a pariah. Dandy. So you work out your aggression by giving your shoes a Viking funeral. Not so good.

All you have from that is a need to run to the shoe store to buy new shoes and a wasted chance to give to the less fortunate. All that does is make you look as selfish as the man you claim to abhor. Be a better person and give those shoes to SAM’s House or another organization that helps those in need. Let your protest show you as an acceptable member of society and not like a pyromaniac.

Lee Pulaski is the city editor for The Shawano Leader. Readers can contact him at