I am throwing away all of my Nike golf balls.
They have been my favorite golf ball. I have played them exclusively now (except at scramble tournaments, when I get free ones) for nearly a decade, but I’m throwing them all out and finding a new ball.
Come to think of it, I may be throwing away all of the merchandise I own that has a Nike Swoosh on it. Because I’m done with them and what they appear to stand for.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me bring you up to speed. I’m talking about the advertisement that Nike ran when Tiger won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It had a picture of Tiger, apparently sizing up a putt, and was captioned with, “Winning takes care of everything.” Immediately, praisers and pundits of Tiger starting voiceing what they thought of this kind of ad really said. Almost all of them said something like, “Well, that’s just Tiger’s attitude, and it always has been. What’s new?”
And they’re right. This has always been Tiger’s attitude.
Nike has been synonymous for years with a gritty determination to turn things around, to fight longer and harder, to train smarter and, as a result, to walk away the winner. Anyone who has competed in any arena can relate to that. Nike also famously gave us the “Just Do It,” slogan (albeit borrowed from others) and inspired an entire generation to go out and challenge themselves to do things that they had never done before.
And Nike stayed with various athletes through their ups and downs, both professional and personal, and until recently, I was on Nike’s side on the issue. I was proud of them for not dropping Lance Armstrong when he was diagnosed with cancer. I was proud of them for not dropping Michael Jordan when he was struggling to come back to basketball. I was proud of them for sponsoring so many initiatives to help kids be healthy.
But now, I think Nike has shown what they really think.
They think that winning takes care of everything.
Does winning take care of broken families? Of promises made and then scoffed at and ultimately disgarded? Does winning restore lost integrity?
I don’t believe it does.
Frankly, Tiger’s prowess on the links doesn’t truly impact me one way or the other. He is impressive, like many athletes who compete on the world stage. And I’ve always known that athletes who are the best in the world see things differently. But I don’t have to agree with them. In fact, as a man of substance, I think part of my responsibility is to find role models who exemplify the virtues I espouse, and emulate them. And to that point, Tiger and I see things very differently.
I don’t believe that winning takes care of everything. I believe that taking care of the critical things, especially family relationships, is what makes it possible to handle everything else.
And that’s why I am done with Nike. I don’t feel like Nike’s corporate values match the man I am trying to be, so I choose not to use their products and be in any way, shape or form part of their advertising program. Instead, I will use a different golf ball, one from a company that doesn’t say that success on the golf course excuses me from being a man of integrity.
What do you think ?