A daddy blog.

13 August 2007

Of Sports Heroes and Filthy Lucre

Just before the weekend, Darren Rovell ran an interview with a Nike bigwig who talked about what China means to his company:
Denson: The Olympics are a great point in time and the Beijing Olympics are going to transcend the world of sport. They will become a monumental event throughout the world.

DR: I can't believe how big 2004 gold medal hurdler Liu Xiang is in this country...

Denson: When I think of Liu Xiang, I think of Michael Jordan in the mid 80s, I think of what Tiger Woods and Lebron James mean to Nike in the United States or what Ronaldinho in Europe and in the world of football (soccer).

The bolding of Denson's pandering to Chinese nationalism and his invocation of He Who Came First are mine. Because I didn't want you to have to read a lot of baloney about some foreign country, and because I want to stress that Nike is probably going to chastise the Chinese government when Darfur freezes over.

So, let's put this issue to bed: Yes, LeBron's signature on Ira Newble's open letter to China would indeed have been a "slam dunk." As, in a cheap easy way to score points without any repercussions. Neither "China" (businessmen, politicians, fans) nor Nike were going to slap LBJ down for it.

But then, as Charles P. Pierce noted, athletes don't really speak out about these things anymore. The strike Jesus Christ poses, but they sure don't open their mouths and say anything interesting. "Wacky" is pretty much the best you can hope for from them anymore.

In the same article: The brilliant CEO of Li-Ning, China's biggest domestic shoe company, thinks he has an advantage because "we know how to make shoes that are comfortable for the Chinese population." If he really thinks selling shoes is about comfort, then I can't help but think the Swoosh will swallow the rest of China's shoebuying demographic by about 2015.