Charlotte is abuzz with news of the city’s bid to acquire a major league soccer team. The owner of the football team is fully behind the acquisition of a soccer team, and funding for the franchise has been made. This past weekend Charlotte hosted an International Champions cup soccer game at Bank of America Stadium, the home of the Carolina Panthers, the home football team. As if that were enough, Megan Rapione made an appearance at the House of Soccer Festival held in Bank of America Stadium. She was a fan favorite and added much to the event. As she demonstrated soccer moves and talked with the young and older fans, she shone as she did in the World Cup. Her white tee shirt with its rolled sleeves carried the Nike swoosh, a corporate symbol known over the world for its sports products. Rapinoe not only spoke of soccer and the second World Championship she was part of, but she expressed her views about President Trump and his recent rally at East Carolina University. She used her platform, as many famous people do, to criticize the chant of “Send her back.” As she did after the parade in New York City, she called for justice and peace. All the while wearing the tee shirt with the Nike logo.
Since the 1990s Nike spent many resources to clear its connection with sweatshops in Southeast Asia. It formed the Nike Community Impact Fund and began girl empowerment programs to combat the anger of consumers by its sweatshops. However, according to an article by Maia Hengeveld in Plough “The irony of the Nike Foundations “empowerment’ philanthropy is that true empowerment is exactly what Nike refuses to get behind in its own operations. Its foundation’s work is not a generous investment in women’s rights, but a smart business investment to restore the company’s image.”
A simple Internet search showed that there are many opinions concerning Nike and its commitment to paying its workers “a living wage” and creating safe and clean workplaces. It is a problem faced by many American companies searching for cheap labor.
However, I cannot forget Rapinoe’s words for justice and peace. Is she not aware that Nike still has a long way to go before it can honestly boast of its girl empowerment programs? I see her as yet one more charlatan in American public life who makes money and spouts what, as Nike is doing, a smart business decision. She, like many corporations and people, is riding a wave of popularity. But it will crash eventually, as all waves do.