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Myths about Nike, Kaepernick, The NFL, Trump and police shootings

Central Florida players wear multi-colored Nike cleats while warming up before their game against South Carolina State last week in Orlando, Fla.
Central Florida players wear multi-colored Nike cleats while warming up before their game against South Carolina State last week in Orlando, Fla. AP

Colin Kaepernick’s ad for Nike was all the rage, as President Donald Trump tweeted out that the apparel company and the NFL were way down and boycotts would overwhelm both groups. It’s time to separate fact from fiction when it comes down to how Nike and the NFL are doing and how good a quarterback Kaepernick was, as well as the most important subject: What’s up police shootings?

Myth No. 1: Nike’s stock. Trump tweeted out that Nike was “getting killed” with “anger and boycotts,” but the company’s stock isn’t getting killed. It’s gone down a point or two in trading, from 82.15 to 80.45 as of the writing of this column on Friday afternoon. Over the last six months, it’s gone up from 64.17 and up from 37.88 five years ago. AceMetrix reported that the ad is a huge hit, and a success with millennials, scoring more than $150 million in “buzz” alone.

Myth No. 2: NFL ratings. Trump insists the ratings are way down. I’ve looked into this, and they really aren’t as “way down” as you would think. The NFL remains the No. 1 rated TV sport. Sports from NASCAR to MLB to the Olympics, as well as the top rated TV shows like “Big Bang Theory” have lower ratings. The real culprit involves folks cutting the cord, streaming events and not being included in traditional measures of viewership, something the ratings companies have been criticized about for years. Until we know what the real viewership numbers are, we’ll never know what the real boycott numbers are. Yet the Trump campaign ran ads during NFL games while Kaepernick was taking a knee in 2016. It is political theater, folks.

Myth No. 3: Kaepernick the QB. Kaepernick may have led the 49ers to the Super Bowl years ago, but he had not played well in his last few seasons, and was a disaster in his final year. His QB rating was 23rd in the league, in the territory of the much-maligned Brock Osweiler. He threw 16 TDs in 11 games, lost 10 of 11 start and was a league leader that year in being sacked and fumbling. He announced he would opt out of his contract while still playing for the 49ers, embarrassing the team during the season. He turned down backup opportunities in order to be a starter, but played poorly. It’s an inspirational commercial, but I wouldn’t want Kaepernick under center for my team if I wanted to win games.

Myth #4: Police shootings. Sure there are some race-based police shootings, but research by the liberal Pacific Standard magazine reveals a lot more about the subject matter than you typically see in the press. African-Americans are twice as likely to be shot by the police (28 percent of police shooting victims are African-Americans) as their population numbers would indicate. But less than 1 percent of police shooting victims are unarmed. White officers shoot black victims at the same rate as black officers do. In fact, researchers from Rutgers report “white police officers actually kill black and other minority suspects at lower rates than we would expect if killings were randomly distributed among officers of all races.”

The best solution seems to be coming from places like my town of LaGrange, and other locales where the police seek closer ties with the community, and to rectify past wrongs committed by the department. It’s not as eye-catching as a tweet, an ad or a touchdown, but it would help our country more than this polarized environment we’re witnessing on TV.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.