© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Athletes, Activism, and Endorsement Deals

Keith Allison
Wikimedia Commons
Some members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 15, 2017 in Landover, Maryland.

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the national anthem in protest of social inquality and police brutality. Because of this controversial move, he hasn't been signed by a team since he went out as a free agent last year, but he has maintained his spot in the political sports conversation, and continues to spark dialogue through a new Nike ad campaign. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Louis Moore, Associate Professor of History at Grand Valley State University, and Sarah Fields of University of Coloarado in Denver about the intersection of patriotism, sports, and social justice. 

Moore says that despite the controversy, at the end of the day, the ad is just that. 

"It's very inspirational," says Moore. "Nike isn't getting invovled with social jusctice. They aren't going out there and saying anything about police brutality. They are doing the same thing Adidas did with Muhammad Ali, taking this figure and using it to sell products." 

Both Louis and Moore will be part of a panel at 7:30 p.m. at Grinnell College on Thursday, September 13 as a part of the "Off the Field Symposium."

If Nike makes money off the campaign featuring Kaepernick, Fields says that it could be a game changer in terms of athletes being wary of speaking out politically for fear of losing endorsement deals. 

"I would expect Adidas, Puma, Under Amour, to follow suit if Nike makes money," says Fields. 


Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River