Mayor Bans Nike Purchases by Recreational Facilities

September 10, 2018 Updated: September 10, 2018

A city mayor in Louisiana has reportedly banned Nike products from being purchased for any recreational facility in the city, according to a leaked internal memo spread widely online. This marks the latest in a string of recent boycotts against the company.

The memo, dated Sept. 5, appeared to have Kenner City Mayor Ben Zahn’s signature on it and was sent to the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Zahn ordered booster clubs operating in Kenner’s recreation facilities to get approval for all their purchases from the director, Chad Pitfield, first.

“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,” the memorandum appeared to state.

Zahn wrote that the practice would be “effective immediately” and would include purchases including apparel, shoes, athletic equipment or any athletic product.

The memo was sent out on the same day that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is no longer playing in the league, posted his ad with Nike. Kaepernick has been mired in controversy since he sparked the national anthem protests among NFL players in 2016.

The contents of the memo did not mention Kaepernick, who is now the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Zahn said in a Sept. 10 statement that Nike chose to sell a “political message” but that he “of course” allows people to wear Nike apparel.

“My internal memo draws the line on letting companies profit from taxpayers by espousing political beliefs,” he said. “My decision disallowing Nike from profiting from our taxpayers while they are using their powerful voice as a political tool is my message.”

Nike’s recent move caused a backlash among consumers, with some of them posting videos of torn up Nike products, while others recorded themselves setting Nike shoes on fire. It also earned a critical response from President Donald Trump, who highlighted the NFL’s dwindling television ratings.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!”

Boycotts

One of the latest boycotts took place in Missouri after a women’s college volleyball team stopped wearing Nike uniforms, instead opting to play in gray T-shirts.

The College of the Ozarks volleyball team said in a Sept. 5 statement that the school would “choose its country over [a] company.”

In October last year, the college added a stipulation to their competition contracts that asked all participating players and coaches to show respect for the American flag and the national anthem.

“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America,” said college President Jerry C. Davis. “We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”

Marci Linson, vice president for Patriotic Activities and Dean of Admissions, said “Nike is free to campaign as it sees fit,” but the college is also free to follow its values.

A Colorado sporting goods store also announced it won’t sell any Nike clothing.

“Pretty sure I won’t survive without them,” Steve Martin, owner of Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs, told CNN. However, “I gotta do what I gotta do. … I’m just doing it.”

Meanwhile, Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, urged consumers to get rid of their Nike apparel and replace it with that of its competitor, New Balance.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao3
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