Good news for purveyors of sweatshop-made sportswear: you too can be inducted into a hall of fame meant to celebrate athletic excellence! Take it from Phil Knight, the chairman and co-founder of Nike, who will join the ranks of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. None other than Michael Jordan will present him, as a small thank-you for all those endorsement deals.
About zero people are thrilled by this. Yahoo! Sports reports:
It was a controversial selection despite Knight’s induction as a "contributor," i.e. non-coaches and non-players who nevertheless have a huge effect on the sport. By any metric, Knight and Nike have altered the course of basketball at every level.
However, this honor, the top award an individual can earn in basketball, would seem to be at least somewhat related to Nike’s status as the premier corporate sponsor of virtually every important organized body in basketball.
Got that? Just change the sport forever somehow—like, commodify its equipment to a psychotic degree, such that you unleash the horrors of class resentment and exploitative labor practices—and they will put your name on a plaque for all to admire. All who pass through Springfield, Massachusetts, at least.
Forget plus size models. Female athletes, according to a story today in the New York Times, are pushing the boundaries of what the public perceives as ‘classic beauty.’ Guy Trebay pegs his argument on a long roster of muscular, yet cosmetic endorsement-ready sports stars–from Maria Sharapova and Mia Hamm to the Williams sisters. But a new face, that of women’s basketball player Brittney Griner, is apparently giving the cause even more steam. “She is part of a slowly unfolding civilized response in the country to the slightly androgynous female,” a scholar tells the paper. “I can imagine a market for that,” Paul Rowland–a revered scout at the modeling agency, Women–adds of his potentially signing a gender-bending, yet conventionally “good-looking” female athlete such as Griner.
Male sports stars are likewise having a moment; at least when it comes to mugging as the faces of fragrances and fashion brands. “No matter what phrase one uses, men’s wear companies are playing a new game as they increasingly look to complex sports partnerships to drive sales and build brands,” says Women’s Wear Daily. From Christiano Rinaldo disrobing for Armani, to Joseph Abboud collaborating with the New York Giants, there is no shortage of non-sport men’s brands enlisting athletes as mannequins to boost allegiance with regard to potential consumers.
After all, “a study from Brand Affinity Technologies last year found that online ads featuring athletes increased brand awareness 180 percent compared with those with no athletes,” WWD adds. Although, the findings aren’t all that surprising. Ask any straight male to name three top male models and it’s doubtful they’ll have any success doing so. Ask them to name three top sports stars, on the other hand? No brainer.