July 28th, 2008 19:41 EST
Nike Basketball Shoe Ad Isn't Racist Or Homophobic
In baseball players are expected to let their actions speak for themselves; "hotdogs" are treated with contempt, sometimes by their own teammates.
When a player hits a home run he is expected to trot around the bases without displaying any histrionics. If a player hits a dinger and thrusts his arms in the air and pumps his fist, he can expect a fastball a couple of inches from his noggin the next time he steps up to the plate.
In baseball it`s a mortal sin to show up your opponent, basketball on the other hand is all about humiliating your adversaries. It`s an in-your-face game, where trash talking is the norm, and players don`t respect their opponents.
It`s not surprising that an edgy Nike basketball shoe ad is causing a lot of controversy:
The world`s largest sportswear and shoe company Nike Inc pulled advertisements that some bloggers had dubbed anti-gay.
"Controversy arose last week over poster and billboard ads for Nike`s new Hyperdunk basketball shoes showing a basketball player`s face in the groin of an opponent who is dunking a ball above him.
The print ads, accompanied by the slogan, `That ain`t right,` were dubbed homophobic, as well as offensive to African-Americans, by some bloggers and critics."
Quotation from Reuters
First let me tackle the race question:
The "That ain`t right" catchphrase" is deemed racist by some, but that`s hogwash. As everybody who hasn`t lived in Siberia for the past few decades knows, the NBA is overwhelmingly black. Watch the interviews before or after an NBA game and the players (mostly black) are barely able to express themselves intelligently. They come across as arrogant, illiterate thugs, and that`s taking a kind view.
I`m not implying that African Americans are inherently thuggish and intellectually inferior, but blacks are recruited from inner cities where public schools are inferior, and then they leave college after one year of not attending classes. Anyone from that type of background (black, brown, white or purple), will come across like an illiterate clown.
When Nike uses the slogan "That ain`t right" in an ad geared to basketball fans, they are only keeping it real. If Nike ran an ad directed at black professionals, that depicted black lawyers speaking Ebonics -- that would be racist.
OK, now the concerns of homophobia:
To dunk over your opponent, is to use the street vernacular: "Making him your expletive deleted." Unfortunately, that seems to be the main goal of professional basketball: To make yourself look good at the expense of your opponents.
It`s not about gay or straight, it`s all about ego. It`s about making the fantastic dunks that will garner you the lucrative athletic gear endorsements.
The subliminal message isn`t that "it ain`t right" to be gay, but that in a league where having "street cred" is crucial, it ain`t right to let your opponent humiliate you.
"In a statement, Nike said the company would drop the ad campaign `to underline our ongoing commitment to supporting diversity in sport and the workplace.`"
Quotation from Reuters
Nike should not have succumbed to the critics, their ad wasn`t racist or homophobic.
I have been a tireless crusader against racism, and as a columnist I have advocated for the rights of gays to marry, adopt children and serve in the military openly for over 10 years. I hope my humble essay is not misunderstood.