So What do the Players Think?


Background: I remain very interested in the Nike case. It seems as though Nike has not fully resolved the conflict they face between cutting costs and treating workers fairly. Despite the many improvements the company has made after their fiscal struggles in 1998, I still am very skeptical that Nike is producing their apparel in the most morally correct fashion. The problem may not be nearly as bad as it was in the late 1990s, but I think a problem with worker exploitation still exists for the company. Nike sponsors many elite college athletic programs, including the Florida State football team, which won the National Championship last January. I wondered what would happen if I discussed the issue of Nike exploiting workers with a Florida State player.

Me: So tell me about your uniform. Obviously you guys are sponsored by Nike, and are given access to many different brand new jersey and cleat styles throughout the season.

FSU Player: I love our uniforms. They are iconic for the school. Ever since high school I’ve been a huge fan of what Nike does for Florida State.

Me: What makes you like the uniform so much?

FSU Player: We look cool, that’s the bottom line. Plus being sponsored by Nike gives us extra credibility as well. Also, I love free stuff. Nike gives us tons of other apparel. I couldn’t tell you how many awesome Nike Florida State sweatshirts and t-shirts I have in my dorm room. I’m always giving them out to my friends.

Me: I’m guessing you’ve never been told that Nike has a history of seriously exploiting their workers overseas?

FSU Player: I did not know that.

Me: Would your opinion of Nike change if you did?

FSU Player: Honestly, probably not. They give me tons of free stuff, and I look cool on game-days. I can’t really ask for more than that.

Me: So you wouldn’t want Florida State to be sponsored by a different company instead due to Nike’s issues with working conditions?

FSU Player: No, Nike’s the best and I wouldn’t want to give that up. Other than maybe Under Armour, no one is even close to Nike. Especially since they sponsor at 32 NFL teams, Nike just has such a dominance of the industry that I think every school in the country would want them to sponsor their athletic programs.

Review: I wrote this somewhat to parallel the Mike Daisey and Apple issue. After originally hearing Mike Daisey’s first podcast, I felt awful and was very angry towards Apple. That being said, I wasn’t about to throw out my MacBook or iPhone to buy something from another company. I think the same kind of thinking applies here. Nike and Apple are so dominant that people are more willing to look past transgressions the companies may have made overseas, especially if it is more convenient for them to turn a blind eye.

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5 thoughts on “So What do the Players Think?”

  1. This is definitely accurate as to what many college football players would say, I think. Honestly, top d1 football players don’t really ever think about issues like these because Nike spoils them so much. In addition to this issue, what do you think about Universities paying their athletes? Are players deserving of salaries or would paying players cause too many problems?

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  2. Santi- I’m not necessarily against universities paying their players. The way I look at it, big time college athletes, especially football and basketball players at top-tier programs, bring in so much money for their university through athletics. Additionally, nationally televised games raise lots of awareness for the university as well. Another question would be whether small school athletes, such as at a Division III school, would be able to be paid too.

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  3. The bottom line here really is that enough monetary incentives are usually all it takes to make consumers turn a blind eye to ethical issues corporations have.

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  4. I think this is a classic case of, “I know, and I care, but not enough for me to want change”. Nike is the gold standard in the world of athletics. In terms of sponsorship, if you’re sponsored by Nike, that’s a big deal. Their gear is top of the line and brand and name recognition are unparalleled. I’m not thinking a college athlete would be willing to give up Nike over unfair labor allegations.

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