Is it just me or is this mammoth Nike takeover of all the NFL jerseys a little creepy? In fact, very creepy. Whatever about the whole ‘market monopoly’ aspect, we all know where these things are being made, right? Clue: There is no merry band of elves working away in comfortable, air conditioned factories with cheeseburger lunch breaks and free milkshake vending machines. We’re not talking a working-condition Utopia here.
The last 24 hours pretty much my entire Facebook news feed has been flooded with NFL fan friends urging me to check out their respective favorite teams new threads. The glossy, airbrushed pictures are kind of detached and alien for starters. Rather than the ridiculous, shredded, ripped, CGI type characters the NFL and NIKE are portraying the jerseys in, frankly I would be more interested in seeing how one fits over Vince Wilfork’s ample frame.
Back to the issue at hand, it is absolutely amazing how easily we all gloss over the whole Nike sweatshop thing. Don’t worry, I am not absolving myself of blame here (although I have made a concerted effort to switch from Nike to Adidas particularly in the last decade or so), but we all need to take a step back and remember where these glossy, shiny, fancy new jerseys are coming from.
Perhaps most disgusting of all is the price hike Nike are gleefully attaching to the new threads. Reebok sold the average NFL jersey for $60. In this time of recession, families being turned out on the street, houses being repossessed and entire communities stricken by high unemployment rates, Nike see fit to raise the price of their NFL jersey to $100.
Absolutely shocking greed.
Whats worse is the incredible profit they are making on each piece, because, as we dig a little deeper, we see how cheap it is for Nike to produce them.
On average, the person that made that fancy new Nike NFL jersey you are salivating over was paid $1.25 a day for doing so. Have a think about that for a second. Considering most of them work seven days a week, that’s $8.75 a week, $35 a month or $420 a year. If the average person that made that NFL jersey you are considering buying saved their entire wages for a year they would be able to afford four of those same jerseys.
If you are one of those ignorant Muppets that believes that $1.25 is a good salary in a third world country, incorrect. In July 2000 Jim Keady, a researcher who has campaigned against Nike’s slavery shops, lived with Nike factory workers in Indonesia. He reported that
‘’ I lived in conditions they lived in and on the wages they paid - $1.25 a day. I lost 25lbs in a month in a rat-infested slum in Tangerang, Indonesia, home to tens of thousands of the women and men who produce the Nike sneakers adored by so many athletes and consumers.’’
For those of you who think Nike is actively trying to make things better in its sweatshops, Keady has this to say;
"I was in Indonesia as recently as August 2009 and in my meetings with workers I heard all too familiar stories of inadequate wages, forced overtime, illegal firings for union organizing, workers being cheated out of pay, etc."
Those are the facts. This isn’t a viral charity campaign, this isn’t a syrupy, ‘Oh those poor people’ story. These are facts.
How do you feel about wearing a jersey that someone got paid a buck twenty five to make?
Makes you feel kind of slimy, no?