Boycotts can be an effective form of protest because they hit companies in the only place that matters to them: the bottom line. Even a slight downturn in sales is often enough to provoke a panicked backpedal. Participating in a boycott is simple: all you have to do is, either via action or inaction, deprive a company of revenue they otherwise would have had. Burning a pair of shoes you already own does not do this.
Nevertheless, this is the tack that a number of people online have decided to take in light of Nike making former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of a new ad campaign.
Kaepernick has long held the ire of conservatives in the US over his decision to protest the often lethal mistreatment of black people in America at the hands of police by kneeling, a gesture he arrived at after consultation with former US Army Green Beret Nate Boyer.
The sight of a non-white person engaging in quiet, respectful protest was apparently too much for the dangerously clogged arteries of a lot of football fans to bear, eventually leading the NFL to ban kneeling during the anthem. Freedom!!!!!!!11111!!
Nike’s tacit support for Kaepernick got a similarly level-headed response, with videos emerging on Twitter almost immediately of people ostentatiously destroying their kicks:
Nike resigns pic.twitter.com/vJ3O1w5X20— Dylan (@RealTSFD) September 4, 2018
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
Others have taken less dramatic but equally as impractical approaches to protest:
I have decided not to burn my Nike shoes. I am taking them back to the store and then will donate the cash to a military foundation.— James Timothy White (@officialjtw) September 4, 2018
Will never buy Nike shoes or products again.
PS: My Starbucks boycott in 2016 allowed me to buy this. Boycotts are so awesome! #Nike pic.twitter.com/Bhb84r925C
This might seem stupid as fuck but they are well within their rights to protest whatever they see fit in whatever manner they like, according to their own principles, which is maybe something they should also respect about Kaepernick.