Black Public Scholars

October 5, 2009

Black Sports: Nike’s Black Politics in Dealing with Michael Vick

Why Nike will just do it and sign Michael Vick

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University, MSNBC’s TheGrio.com and AOL Black Voices 

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently made a decision that is bad for business. Taking one of the boldest, and perhaps silliest, stands of any corporation in recent memory, Dick’s decided not to sell Michael Vick jerseys in any of their stores.

Perhaps they earned a few dog-loving customers, but they lost the support of any shareholder who cares about making money. It’s one thing for lynch mobs to embrace vigilantism, but another for a corporation to engage in the same irrational behavior. Vick paid his debt to society; it’s time to move on with our lives.

The top brass at the Nike Corporation are smarter than the management at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but they too understand the need to stay away from Michael Vick, at least for right now. When asked to respond to rumors that Vick had signed a deal with Nike, the company gave an immediate and resounding "no." After the Nike denial, Michael Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, had to backpedal faster than an NFL defensive back to kill any indication that his client has re-signed with the "big swoosh." However, the confidence with which the signing was announced indicates that the relationship might be deeper than we think.

The truth is that I don’t believe a single word of the Nike dismissal. Like the big egos in Beyonce’s song, Nike’s swoosh is " too big, too wide, too strong" for them to sit idly by as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL makes his return to the game. Nike executives have seen Vick grace the cover of Xbox games and sports magazines and often refer to him as the man who "revolutionized the quarterback position." They know that Vick is not washed up, and that some of his best years may still be ahead of him.

Click to read.

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