As TSM reported, Kobe Bryant has appealed the fine assessed for calling a referee a “faggot” during a Lakers game last week. Nor have we learned of any action to substantiate his words of apology. What is worse is that Nike has made it clear that they will support the bigoted Bryant regardless; after all he is an “athlete.” When I asked Nike for a response regarding Bryant’s appeal to the fine, I got:
There has been no change in Nike’s position or statement beyond our conversation on Friday. I would decline to comment further at this time.
I then asked if Nike would could please explain what are the criteria for hiring an “athlete” as a spokesperson. Nike’s official response:
Michael, again, I am going to decline to comment further at this time.
The diversity statement that Nike publishes on their website apparently is just as hollow as Bryant’s apology. Nike must use the Senator Kyl philosophy where their words are not intended to represent truth. While Bryant may not have intended to specifically refer to that individual referee as a “faggot,” it is clear that it was the first word that came to mind. Nike has now made a clear decision, sadly true, that it is perfectly acceptable to use a pejorative against the LGBT community. I can only wonder what all of the LGBT employees at Nike must be thinking. Like Target, I am now calling for a world-wide boycott of Nike. I encourage all LGBT folks and LGBT allies to contact the HRC to change the status of Nike.
When will it finally be unacceptable to use slurs against the LGBT community? This seems like a perfectly appropriate opportunity to call your attention to how attitudes shape the risk of suicide attempts amongst LGBT youth.
“If you have questions, concerns or would like more information about Nike’s manufacturing practices, environmental issues, diversity or philanthropic policies and activities around the world, please call us at 1-800-344-6453 – (7 a.m. – 4 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday).”