Sports without boundaries: U.S. buys an Olympic team

In this article, a spokesperson for Nike declares its high ideals, ‘Nike has always felt sports shouldn’t have boundaries’ and provides information as to how it has gone about converting Kenyan athletes to compete in sports it deems marketable in the consumer society – and profitable. 

The USA is the greatest exponent of cosmopolitanism. Any expression of national identity in culture and sport was stamped as outdated, backward and medieval. In its etymology, a cosmopolitan is a ‘citizen of the world’, rather than a citizen of a particular country. ‘I am for sports without boundaries,’ says the racist of the Anglo-Saxon doctrine, ‘but precisely the sports of my nation are those of the world nation.’ It conceals either a great power chauvinism towards other nations or a nihilistic attitude towards one’s own nation.

From this point of view, all other nations must adapt themselves to this Anglo-American nation, dissolve themselves in it, lose their national identity, and forget about their national traditions, philosophy and thought material. One does not look at which each people have accomplished as a starting point. For the U.S. this means the cruel policy of forcibly wiping out national cultures and sports which today finds its expression in the extinction of entire nations. This gives rise to not only what is called cosmopolitanism, but to the so-called civilized values of the free-market economy, human rights and multi-party democracy which is the formula for civil wars and occupation, creating the serious danger of a cataclysmic world war.

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Did Nike Go Too Far With Boit?

February 14, 1998) – ONE of the feel-good stories of the Nagano Olympics began two years ago with a brainstorm at Nike’s marketing department: What if we transform a couple of Kenyan runners into cross-country skiers?

Now Nike’s may have backfired, with some accusing the company of going too far to put its swoosh on a good story.

“These are not athletes clearing hurdles to reach their Olympic dream,” wrote Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski. “These are marketing pawns financed by well-heeled publicity-seekers.”

Details of Nike’s involvement began to emerge even before one of the great photo moments of the game – Kenyan cross-country skier Philip Boit crossing the finish line dead last in the 10-kilometre race Thursday and being embraced by Bjorn Dahlie, the gold medal winner from Norway.

Nike, which had its signature swoosh on Boit’s hat, collar and sweater, hatched the idea two years ago to send Kenyan distance runners Boit and Henry Bitok to Finland to learn cross-country skiing.

They would be like the celebrated Jamaican bobsled team at the Calgary Games in 1988.

Nike paid for their move and spent a reported $200,000 for their lodging and a Finnish coach. The athletes even got custom ski uniforms, courtesy of the company.

Nike spokeswoman Martha Benson said Nike has financially backed Kenyan runners since 1991 and the move into cross-country skiing came out of a series of meetings between Nike and Kenyan running officials.

It was Rudy Chapa, Nike’s vice president for U.S. sports marketing, who first suggested cross-country skiing, Benson said. Nike also sponsors top Finnish athletes. Finnish runners travel to Kenya to train. Why not send Kenyan runners to Finland to ski?

“Nike has always felt sports shouldn’t have boundaries,” Benson said.



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One response to “Sports without boundaries: U.S. buys an Olympic team

  1. Pingback: Nike hijacks U.S. Olympic TV coverage | Friendship First, Competition Second

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