A guy was in lane 1 today wearing a shirt from this year’s Pat’s Run, the local 4.2 mile race to honor the memory of former Arizona State and Cardinals football player Pat Tillman. I thought this was fitting, given the controversy swirling around Nike’s new Just Do It campaign.
A lot of folks are saying it should be Tillman’s face rather than Kap’s for the 30th anniversary ad. And I guess I understand where they’re coming from, even though Tillman’s wife said last year that her husband’s service “should never be politicized in a way that divides us.”
But honoring Tillman’s sacrifice doesn’t address the problem, which is that a large number of Americans feel they are being discriminated against unfairly, sometimes fatally, and feel the desperate need to do something about it, to call attention to it, to demand change. If they are fortunate enough to be on a national and world stage to do it, then they feel it’s their responsibility, following the tradition of Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos and others over the years.
Maybe this is just a genius marketing campaign by Nike to cash in on the controversy. Or maybe they really do care. They might lose some money, but I doubt it. Their brand is too strong. Folks will squawk for a few weeks and then go back to their Air Jordans and Tiger Woods golf shirts. People have short memories. For each person burning $200 shoes they already paid for, someone else who has no interest in sports apparel is buying a pair of shoes just to show their support. It all balances out.
But if you take the time to read Colin Kaepernick’s story, you’ll find he’s the real deal, a guy willing to quietly sacrifice for something he believes in.
Tillman’s college teammate Jeremy Staat weighed in today. “Pat was not a conservative Republican, he did not believe in the Iraq War, he was not a Christian, and with the government and military handling of his death and the lies that followed I do believe that Pat would value the players’ protest against police brutality and inequality,” he said.
In the words of the prophet Vonnegut, so it goes.
The memory of Tillman was alive and well in Lane 1 today at the track. Kap and I held down Lane 9. There’s room for both on the track, and in the world.
The important thing is to believe in something. Just do it.
SoM Day 5
track, 6 pm, 97
44:46 (14:53, 114)
14:16, 14:57, 14:55
145, 0.74, 2.6, v35