Protections for Its College Player-Promoters? – Nike’s Cowering in the Locker-Room John


Nike has been hiring college players to promote for them since 1978. Well, not really, uh, hiring, exactly. Sort of  hiring. Well, no. . . it’s actually that the school, like . . . hires . . . well, no sorta, well, just gets the players to do the promoting

So Nike’s payment goes – follow me here – to the school, and Nike just lets the school do . . . whatever … just so long as the school makes sure that the promotion-with-logo which is the “essence” of  Nike’s contract with the school, really happens. And this wacky promotion scam – um, arrangement – has been ‘happening’ for almost forty years.

The Apparel is Just Promotion-Props

Nike and the schools like to call those arrangements “apparel-supply’ contracts, but don’t buy that. Sure, they supply apparel, but the school actually books it as in-kind payment. But, mostly, it’s really not in-kind payment, because it is props, really — promotion props. Equipment for promoting on the football or basketball stage. Billboards, in a way. Nike requires that the school, uh, require that the player wear the billboards at all times. So Nike’s contract gets two things it wants badly: 1) the schools receives thousands of billboard/uniforms (or shoes); and 2) the school mandates that its players wear those billboards. A lot like those sandwich-board guys you see down by the railroad station, paid to wear a sign that says “Payday Loans,’ or ‘Gold and Silver Wanted.’ The display is on the body. The billboard is the apparel-with-logo. Nike hands those billboards out to big-time schools everywhere. The players wear them. And the students and public then line up like ducks, to follow the billboard-wearing players, by buying the Nike-loge-ed products.

Nike’s promotion-makers here are a lot like Nike’s overseas apparel-makers — except that they’re not.

And for 38 years now, Nike has shown it could care less about the bodies of their U.S. college players who make their promotion. Nike’s promotion-makers here are a lot like Nike’s overseas apparel-makers — except that they’re not. Unlike Nike’s apparel-makers, if you can believe it, Nike’s U.S. player-promotion-makers get no cash pay, no benefits, and no employment protections. And they also — all of them, the football and basketball player-promoters — encounter extraordinary daily risk of injury, which is much greater than the risk which those overseas apparel-makers encounter.

Nike’s promotion-makers here get half-baked, dollar-store, dipshit insurance for the injuries they daily experience 

But here’s the amazing thing: Nike’s promotion-makers here get half-baked, dollar-store, dipshit insurance for the injuries they experience every day. Nike apparel-makers in Vietnam are treated better than Nike’s promotion-makers here. And the NCAA’s ‘amateurism’ myths are so strong, that nobody thinks that this is weird. Figure that one out.

Neither do Nike’s player-promoters here — unlike Nike’s overseas apparel-makers — have any glossy online ‘Sustainability Policy’ to protect them, with grand affirmations that Nike’s ‘non-negotiable’ Sustainability policy must ‘disrupt’ existing labor standards, to trigger “new compensation and benefit models,” concerning the “health and well-being” of those who work for them overseas. Nothing.

It’s time, Nike. Make the Jump, Man. Just Do It. Insist that your U.S. ‘contract partners’ (colleges) protect the bodies and lives of the promoters they hire to do your promotion. It’s your time. Pressure is on. All we need is a field goal from you. Time is winding down. Nike, you never even came out on the field — and we found you, hiding in a locked locker-room bathroom stall. We know you’re in there.

Copyright 2016 William Wilson

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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