Nike machine gone wild?
I was a former member of the recreational basketball league Nike Recess Federation (NRF) for the past two years. NRF is a by-invitation-only basketball league that counts among their players, NYC's most influential designers, music writers and other various media all-stars.
What started out as a well-intentioned, and a fairly well-thought out league that only charged $50 the first year and $100 the second year, now charges $200 this year. While it's difficult to argue that one didn't get their money's worth in the first and second year, the third year of the league was arguably the year that one would sell their soul to the Nike corporate marketing machine.
Let me explain. The first two years, your admission fee got you a matching pair of Nike-logo'd basketball shorts and jersey. While it was required to wear the Nike jersey, most people did not like the mesh shorts. By my count, less than a quarter of the league wore the shorts.
After the second year, I decided not to participate in the third year, for a variety of reasons. The league scheduled games between 6PM and 10PM and your social and work schedule was held ransom by the haphazard schedule. There were often times poor scheduling and your team would play one week, and then be off for a month. More than any other reason, I also found it very clique-ish. Having not been employed by some slick media company like XXL, The Source, Vibe or Complex, I didn't feel I was taking advantage of the league's primary goal - to network and network some more.
Shortly before the third year began, I read the new rules and regulations. Having never had an official set of rules, I read it with some interest. One of them, #17, on uniforms, was particularly galling. This year not only were you required to wear shorts and jersey, but you also had to wear the Nike sneakers for which part of your $200 paid for! If you did not, the other team got a technical foul shot and possession of the ball.
Now, I wonder -- this league is meant as a networking playground for the city's media elite who are supposedly full of great ideas and self-expression, yet it requires them to don complete Nike duds? The New York Times article I link to here is right -- NRF turned everyone into a human billboard for Nike.
Sure, the league's sponsored by Nike, but must it get so territorial? It's already called the Nike Recess Federation -- shouldn't that be enough? Let them wear their Adidas, And 1's and Reeboks.