If I never hear another actor, singer, or sports star say anything about politics, life will be much more peaceful and, more importantly, much less STUPID. Generally, I avoid reading or listening to ‘news’ sources in which I’m likely to hear the latest wisdom vomited forth from some pampered, sheltered one-dimensional punk to the applause of absolutely EVERYONE they know.
It’s worse in the Bay Area, of course. This is the land where the mere possibility one might actually hear something WRONG is sufficient justification for burning some random person’s car or vandalizing some random stranger’s storefront. Thus, allowing a few hundred people to listen to one guy say stuff that challenges the fantasy -land assumptions of progressivism is the same as forcing fascism on America, and therefore any steps necessary may be taken. No, really (1).
Anyway, I am weak, and sometimes do listen to the news over the radio on my morning commute – and, worse, even though I’ve sworn off the NBA, I don’t reflexively turn it off when the sports news comes on.
So, today, I paid the price: I listened to an Attractive Yet Sheltered and Ignorant Youngster use his platform as a sports superstar to attempt to ruin a company that has made him many millions of dollars. A company he is reputed to own a good size stake in. Because the CEO said something nice about Trump, and Our Attractive Youngster doesn’t like him.
Background: Steph Curry is the two-time defending Most Valuable Player in the NBA, which, given that he looks about 16 years old and is ‘only’ about 6’3″ tall, is utterly remarkable. His story is a Hero’s Journey in real life: no major colleges wanted him, so he attended a second-tier school, gained recognition when he took them deep into the NCAA playoffs, got drafted by the Warriors, spent the first couple years mostly injured – then blew the league apart with his phenomenal shooting ability. All the while looking like some kid who wandered onto the court where the men were playing.
He’s also charming in a boyish awe-shucks manner, married to a lovely, vivacious wife and father to two utterly adorable little girls. His reputation is squeaky-clean. He is unfailingly polite, and can effortlessly navigate both the black urban street-ball culture and golf with the CEO of any corporation. Children of all ages adore him in vast numbers.
In other words, Steph Curry is a marketer’s dream – no, rather a marketer’s most outlandish fantasy – come true.
A few years ago, just as he was starting to make a name for himself, he was up for a sneaker contract. For those not up on modern sports, the superstars cut deals with one of a small number of sporting equipment companies, wherein they get paid – often, a lot, as in millions per year – to wear the company’s shoes and other apparel when they play and at all other times. The 600 lbs gorilla in this game is Nike – they ‘own’ LeBron James, Tiger Woods and, legendarily, Michael Jordan, among many others.
Curry did not fit the Nike mold – their stable includes mostly god-like physical specimens who destroy all opposition. He looks like a kid. So they made a rather tame and lame offer to him. But up and coming Under Armour saw the potential, and signed him to a much sweeter deal, cut him a piece of the action, and made him the centerpiece of their entire corporate marketing campaign.
The rest is history. Cashing in on Curry’s unexpected meteoric rise to the top, Under Armour became a darling of Wall Street and made a boatload of money – with a smaller yet still large boatload paid to Curry. Match made in heaven, certain to be the subject of business school case studies for the next several decades.
Curry is the son of a professional athlete, a good, solid Christian citizen named Dell Curry. He grew up wealthy in the alternate universe elite athletes inhabit. His fairytale life really is a fairytale compared to real life.
Yet, he has no way of knowing that. It’s like water to a fish.
So, today, on the news, it was reported that the CEO of Under Armour commented that Trump’s pro-business policies make him “an asset to America”. Bay Area news-cretins (2) cannot let THAT pass, and so stuck a mic in Curry face and asked him to comment: he said he agreed, so long as you removed the ‘e’ and ‘t’ from ‘asset’. He then went on to say he’d need to have a talk with Under Armour about their business relationship, since it was clear they didn’t support the same politics.
Financially, Curry and Under Armour made each other. Yet, a 27-year-old sheltered child of a man now feels, not only free, but compelled to threaten to destroy the relationship – and the company! – unless management of a *corporation* reflects his personal political views. Some other company will snap him up in a minute, if push comes to shove, so Curry will come out just fine. But that may not mean much to the thousands of employees or owners of Under Armour stock.
I hope they have that discussion. I hope Under Armour gets somebody who can get through to Curry to explain that wishing Trump well and even supporting his policies does not make someone evil or stupid – that there are good reasons to prefer him over Hillary. That one might support the current President and wish him well – because he’s President, even if (as is the case for me) you find him personally appalling. That plenty of black men and women support Trump. That maybe he should contemplate why the military went Trump 3 to 1. That maybe he should broaden his sources of information beyond his current echo chamber.
I’d be much more impressed with this principled stand if it stood to cost Curry anything. Meanwhile, I might just have to start buying non-Curry Under Armour gear if I ever need any, while grabbing some Chick Fil A on my way to Hobby Lobby.
- First thing that came up, from Rolling Stone: “Shutting down the talk was successful,” the protester, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an email. “But it was also about sending a message to everyone else: We aren’t about to allow white supremacist views to be normalized. It was about striking at the seemingly impervious confidence the far right has been boasting.” But it isn’t just about blocking a single speaker. “It is really about making them understand the danger they pose by treating these insane neo-Nazi ideas cavalierly,” the protester says. “People talk a lot about ‘freedom of speech’ and I think this fetish of speech misses the larger point. It is about ideas of freedom itself. Who has it, and who is denied it.”
- The next item up was an interview with a marketing consultant about what it all means – because 90 seconds of information over the radio are what make the world go round. BUT: this marketing expert mentioned in passing, matter of fact, that boycotts by the right tend to not have much effect, because the media has no interest in promoting or even reporting on it like they do with boycotts from the left. That’ll teach that station not to do live interviews!