As we celebrate our country’s anniversary of independence, we reflect on the tremendous strides our society has made to extend freedom and liberty to its citizens. Great inroads to equality of opportunity have been made, breaking down historical barriers of race, gender and wealth. While there are still battles to be won, much progress has been made, particularly in the historically white male-dominated sports industry. In the last decade, women and minorities have climbed the ladder of success in sports business, blazing the trail for more to follow behind them.
Check out my full article in Sports Networker for my top three sports business influencers that embody freedom.
Photo Credit: Nikeinc.com
Black History Month has been recognized in the United States annually since 1976. It began in 1925 when Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) dedicated a week in February to remember and honor African American history and culture. Since then, Negro History Week has grown to span an entire month of celebrations that span all sectors of society– even sports.
The NBA continues to put forth a cross-cutting tribute to this month’s cultural celebrations, from league initiatives, team efforts and player-driven events. Even big brands like Nike have joined the celebration. This year, Nike released MLK Day shoes in each of the lines of superstar athletes Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James featuring Nike’s Black History Month print to kick off February’s celebration of black history and culture.
Read my full article on SportsNetworker.com here.
Race been intricately intertwined with sport throughout history and has been used to break down some of the most ominous barriers. Moments like those of the 1968 Olympics or the 1995 Rugby World Cup demonstrate the power sport wields to transcend social injustice and bridge racial divides. More than a tool for civil rights, many athletes have testified about the power of sport in their own lives- creating opportunities, inspiring dreams and sparking ambition. And for many African- American athletes, the experiences that have most dramatically shaped their lives often hinge on both race and sport. To then be offered a product that, in my opinion, mocks two hot-button social injustices that disproportionately affect African- Americans- slavery and incarceration- is deplorable.
So I have one question: HOW did this make it off the drawing board??? I find it quite disturbing that, throughout what is typically an 18-month footwear development process, the Adidas leadership team failed to recognize the disastrous connotation this design embodies. It took anuproar from the public, proliferated via social and nationally syndicated media, to cause Adidas- a company that claims to be “committed to producing original, forward-thinking products”- to question the viability and marketability of this shoe. Quite backwards, to say the least. A global brand, or anyone for that matter, cannot afford to be so future-oriented that it fails to reflect on the past and what bearings it may have on the present and future. Slavery is certainly an issue with an infinite forward reach, as it defines nearly 300 years of black culture in America; incarceration continues to disproportionately plague African-Americans to this day.
Our society cannot take lightly the intricacies of race and how it has become so deeply entrenched in every facet of humanity, sport and fashion included. Adidas made the right decision in withdrawing its plans to make the shoes available for purchase this summer, but only time will tell if that will be enough to preempt a loss of market share on account of offending and alienating a demographic that makes up a significant portion of the basketball shoe market.