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Nike: Valuing Dogs Over Women

April 23, 2010

In 2007, Nike took a stand!  In the wake of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s dog-fighting scandal, Nike publicly dropped their commercial contract with the athlete, indignantly decrying, “We consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and unacceptable.”  Nike nobly put financial concerns aside to maintain their standards of corporate social responsibility.  When it comes to animal cruelty, Nike has a zero tolerance policy!  Huzzah!

But cruelty to women?  Well… that’s another story…

On Wednesday, the N.F.L. suspended Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games without pay and ordered him to “comprehensive behavioral counseling” after a 20-year-old woman accused him of sexual assault in a Georgia bar.  This is Roethlisberger's second sexual assault allegation in the past year.  And Nike's response to this troubling news over their spokesperson?  Well, it amounted to “Ben continues to be part of the Nike roster of athletes.”  Apparently, Roethlisberger still meets Nike’s moral standards.  Roethlisberger’s local sponsor Big Ben’s Beef Jerky and local newspaper can’t say the same; they promptly dropped Roethlisberger in wake of the appalling news.  But Nike continues to stand by their man, just as they stood by Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods.  And to put the icing on the cake, the Nike product Roethlisberger promotes? “Marauder” cleats.  Good grief.

What are we telling our sons and daughters when our culture not only excuses (Roethlisberger will not face criminal charges) but reveres men like Roethlisberger?  Could it be that our jockocracy culture does not value or respect women's lives?

A big thank you is in order for Timothy Egan for bringing media attention to Nike’s inexcusable behavior.  Definitely check out his hard-hitting NYT oped and NPR interview on the subject!