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THE SWOOSH & THE SWISH: CRITICS DEBATE PROS AND CONS OF NIKE
Published May 19, 1998
Nike Chair Phil Knight is listed among the "Winners" of TIME's "Notebook" for announcing the company's new labor policy initiatives overseas: "Nike CEO will end child labor and improve factories abroad. Go, Phil -- now hike that minimum wage!" (TIME, 5/25 issue). In Dallas, Kevin Blackistone writes on Nike's planned reforms and states that wearing Nike products "was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, at least for me. The only reason I hadn't yet turned a shoulder to Nike, as I once did consumer companies that did business with apartheid South Africa, was because Nike did so many good things in the world of sports. It championed women's athletics. It opened its boardroom to minorities. It stood up for athletes it thought had been wronged." Blackistone adds that the only issue that Knight failed to address in his announcement was "pay, which he should have. But, this was a start. ... When the results come in, hopefully I'll feel better" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/19). A SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS editorial stated that "as the first step to win back consumers' respect, Nike needs to show that it can take responsibility for how its products are made. If it can monitor the quality of athletic shoes made in Indonesia and Vietnam, it should be able to monitor the quality of the air in the factory" (MERCURY NEWS, 5/18). AIR QUALITY: Michael Jordan, who earlier this year announced offseason plans to visit Nike's Asian plants, on the planned reforms: "I'm pretty sure people are going to say that there was some pressure put upon (Knight) to make those changes. But if there's a need, then he has to. I don't think that's going to alter my trip at all. ... I've still got to go for myself" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/19).