HIGHTOWER: Praying for Nike's Soul

Time for another "Gooberhead Award" [Beanicap Breakdown] ... extended by Hightower Radio to pompous pontificators who've got their tongues racing ... but can't seem to get their brains in gear.Today's Goober is Antonio Tijerino -- an official spokesman for Nike Inc. Nike is fast becoming known as a Very Bad Sport because of its "Sweatshops-R-Us" exploitation of Asian girls to make the shoes. To try to cover-up this abuse, Nike pays tens-of-millions of dollars to such sports superstars as Michael Jordan, Troy Aikman and Tiger Woods to make touchie-feelie, We-Are-the-World TV ads. Despite this ploy, however, the PR game has begun to go badly for the $9 billion-a-year company.It seems that not all athletes are willing to keep their mouths shut in exchange for Nike cash. Marion Traub-Werner, for example, a former member of the women's crew at the University of North Carolina, has formed the "Nike Awareness Committee" there. Despite a personal plea from Coach Dean Smith, a UNC basketball icon, Marion is continuing her fight to make the university hold Nike accountable for its abuses. So far, though, officials there are putting pocketbook over principle, accepting $11 million a year from Nike.Then there's Reggie White, the all-pro lineman for the Green Bay Packers. He's publicly challenging Nike to build some shoe-making factories in our inner cities, hiring the low-income kids whom the company's TV ads target as buyers of its $100-plus shoes. Reggie is paid about $250,000 a year by Nike, but he's refusing to treat it as hush money.This is where today's Gooberhead enters the picture. Asked about Nike's refusal to create needed jobs in our country, Nike spokesman Antonio Tijerino said: "There are poor people everywhere. We need to pray for them all."This is Jim Hightower saying ... No we don't Antonio ... we need to pray for your soul, you Gooberhead!Source:"Student protests shame Nike athletes" by Harvey Araton. New York Times: Nov. 22, 1997.

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