August 26, 2016, NFL ‘49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is noticed kneeling during the National Anthem and is promptly thrust into the national spotlight. In short order, the nation divides itself over the issue, such that perhaps no sports figure in recent years has elicited more, or more volatile, criticism. September 5, 2018, Nike releases their 30th anniversary Just Do It commercial and begins plastering Kaepernick’s face across cyberspace, along with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” To say that Nike’s campaign has been incendiary is to speak literally; disgruntled consumers throughout the Twittersphere took to burning their Nike gear in protest.
Whether you’ve found yourself kneeling in your Nikes alongside Kaepernick, bonding with your buddies roasting your exhumed swooshes over a bonfire, or scrolling haplessly through your social media feeds wondering why your cute cat videos have been replaced by smoking sneakers, you’ve been impacted by Kaepernick’s actions. It seems safe to say hardly anyone in the U.S. has escaped the social media firestorm. One man taking a knee has caused an entire nation to bend its ear.