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As a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I have spent countless hours researching Nike in preparation for various reports and presentations. Your article was excellent. Not only has Nike taught many business students invaluable lessons about how to compete, but, through messages that instill hope and encouragement, it also has inspired athletes and others. I hope your article has given readers an appreciation of this company and its mission.
Nike seems to have discovered the formula for corporate success. On the surface Nike appears to be the type of company for which we all would like to work. However, I finished Katz's article troubled by many of the strategies that have helped make Nike successful. Exploitation of cheap foreign labor while abandoning the domestic labor market; enriching an already overpaid cadre of professional athletes at the expense of a voracious market of kids unable to afford high-priced sneakers; and "buying" universities and coaches for additional promotional opportunities are just a few examples.
As a high school coach for 26 years, I have told my players never to purchase athletic footwear that bears a pro athlete's name or is advertised as a shoe worn by a pro. The markup added to the price to cover the athlete's fee is sinful.
?Here's Knight, without sunglasses.—ED.
I am disappointed with the lack of objectivity in your 20-page valentine to Nike. The advertising campaign of Made in the USA did not assert that Nike eliminated all 65,000 U.S. shoe-manufacturing jobs that your article ambiguously says we "referred to," but the campaign did point out that a trained and productive work force was available in the U.S. when Nike decided to stop producing any of its shoes in this country. To brush off criticisms of the exploitative use of foreign labor as merely a "controversy that will not go away" suggests that SI lacks the journalistic scope and integrity to address objectively the economic issues of the sports industry.
Suing the Coach