When I arrived at the Nike unveiling on Wednesday, the publicist who checked me in at the media table said they’d temporarily run out of press kits. “Find me before you leave and I’ll have one for you,” he told me. I tracked him down as I was leaving a few hours later, and he said, “Couldn’t get any more of them, but everything you need is on this flash drive.” He handed me a plastic packet (see above), which I put in my bag.
When I got home, I pulled out the flash drive and extended its jack. To my surprise, it wasn’t a standard USB jack, and it didn’t fit any of the ports on my computer. I was in a hurry (it was already past noon, and I had promised to have an ESPN piece written by 2:30pm), and I had taken several hundred photos of my own at the unveiling, so I decided not to waste time trying to figure out the flash drive. I put it aside, wrote my piece, and that was that.
The flash drive sat on the far corner of my desk for the next two days. It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I looked at it again. That’s when I suddenly realized that the shape of the drive and the inclusion of an accompanying chain were supposed to evoke a very specific motif: military dog tags.
I wasn’t planning to get further bogged down in the whole Pro Combat vs. real combat issue, but the dog tags have sent me over the edge. It’s time to call this shit for what it is: vulgar. It is vulgar for Nike to equate football with armed military conflict. It is vulgar for Nike to compare football players to soldiers, especially when we have real soldiers needlessly dying in a pointless war in Afghanistan. It is vulgar for Nike to use ad slogans like “Prepare for Combat,” as if war were nothing more than a marketing campaign for a movie. It is vulgar for Nike to use the trappings of military imagery, including dog tags, to promote athleticwear. It is vulgar for Nike to invoke one military metaphor after another for a bunch of privileged athletes, most of whom will never serve in the military.
And although I have no way of knowing this for sure, I suspect few if any of the Nike designers and marketers who dreamed all of this up have ever served either. That’s pretty damn vulgar too.
I haven’t decided what to do with the flash drive. Normally I’d put it in the pile of stuff I give away in my annual reader-appreciation raffle at the end of the year, but I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable giving this to someone — it’s disgusting. Simply throwing it out doesn’t feel right either. Should I mail it back to Nike? Should I mail it to someone in the military? Should I hammer a nail through it? If you have ideas, I’m all ears.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Here’s a great close-up of the completely ridiculous patch UNC will be wearing tonight. … Love this interactive NFL schedule. Click on your favorite team to see how brutal their travel schedule will be. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Great piece about über-annoying ad decals on laptops. … New bicentennial soccer kit for Mexico. … Yesterday I showed a photo of the Blackhawks’ center-ice logo being painted; here’s a time-lapse video of same (with thanks to Jeff Wilk). … Several Utah players were wearing camo undershirts against Pitt (with thanks to Darin Nelson and Jefferson Boswell). … Drake University has come up with what might be history’s worst logo concept (with thanks to Patrick Runge). … New 85th-season logo for the Rangers. … Joseph Lee that USC has changed from Oakley visors to Nike. “The helmets just look 10x less classy than they used to,” he writes. “It’s weird how such a little thing could bother me.” I have no idea what he’s talking about, of course. … Nick Postorino spotted a Cowboys-themed Volkswagen — complete with green dot! — on the streets of Burlington, Wisconsin. Seems like an odd place for such a sighting, until you realize it’s Tony Romo’s hometown. … Man, the Blackhawks must have the most-documented center-ice logo paint job in history (credit Steve Johnston). … SF Giants fans could do a lot worse than to score a pair of these socks (thanks, Brinke). … Brandon Schwartz points out that the Buckeyes wore their usual black socks on Thursday — except for Terrelle Pryor. “He was also the only one wearing white-trimmed shoes instead of red-trimmed,” says Brandon. “The funny thing is that he matched the rest of the team during warm-ups.” … Twins wore their retro alts yesterday. “That’s a uniform they’ve only been wearing on Saturdays, and I’m curious if they were forced into wearing them because starting pitcher Matt Fox was making his major league debut on a few hours’ notice,” says Jeremy Seidling. “This is the only Twins uniform without NOBs. Is it possible they didn’t have time to get Fox’s name on a regular home uniform and were forced to wear the NNOB uniforms out of schedule?” … Georgia Tech has whipped up a logo commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1990 national championship team (as noted by Terry Duroncelet). … Yesterday I asked if USC had ever used captaincy “C”s before this season. Several readers told me the Trojans had never used the “C,” but Evan Schreiber came up with this 1999 photo of Chad Morton that suggests otherwise. … New logos, uniforms, etc. for the Fort Myers Miracle (with thanks to Rene VanPoelvoorde). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Ohio State is wearing a Jack Tatum memorial decal, and a small item on this page indicates that the Chargers will memorialize Don Coryell and Big Hands Johnson by wearing “Air Coryell” and “79” helmet decals for their season opener.