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Hello World?

Green Monster

By Keith S. Greenawalt

Okay, first things first.

How about them Wildcats from the University of Arizona, huh? I mean fifth place in the Pac-10 to a national title. The sleepy city of Tucson erupted into a wild celebration that included knocking over ESPN's truck. Or so I heard. Congrats 'Cats.

Oh yeah, another thing.

Now, I'll admit, it wasn't the boldest prediction, but...remember that stuff I said about Tiger Woods earlier this school year? Remember what I was saying about being a once-in-a-generation, history-making athlete? Remember when I told everyone to make sure they watched what he did because it was going to be revolutionary? 'Nuff said.

But, on a more serious note, who do you think is the most relieved, happy person out there?

My guess is Phil Knight.

I know that Tiger is probably a better bet, but he was expecting it. There was no relief for him, this was just the beginning. Tiger's dad is another option, but he believes that Tiger is going to save the world, so this is not such a big deal.

Phil Knight, on the other hand, had a lot riding on this kid. You see, Phil Knight is the CEO of Nike. You know, that company that gave Tiger Woods $60 million guaranteed? Nike is that company that airs all of those advertisements about Tiger and hopes that he will be THE person to sell gazillions of dollars in golf merchandise. Yeah, I think they were pretty friggin' excited about the whole thing.

How bad would it have been for Nike if Tiger had collapsed in that final round, pulled a Greg Norman, blown it all. Pretty bad I'd say. Tiger and his family have confidence that can spill over. Moreover, Nike has assured its future no matter what happens. The fact is, Nike has more on the line than Tiger does.

Which brings me to another question. Is it more important to Nike that Tiger can hit it 320 yards with a three wood, or that he knows where to position his hat when he hugs his father?

Nike is taking over, and I don't know if I can deal with it.

Nike makes great shoes. I'm wearing a pair as we speak. I like them. They also make some of the funniest and best advertisements on television. They also need to get up out of my face.

What I am talking about is when I see Nike Swoosh lapel pins on seventy percent of the coaches in the NCAA tournament.

I am talking about those pretentious "I'm Tiger Woods" ads.

I'm talking about making endorsements more important than the sports.

However, I think the lowest of the low was when Nike bought Jackie Robinson.

OK, they probably haven't bought Jackie Robinson...yet. But when I see a commercial that is praising Robinson's contributions to the game, when I hear Reggie Jackson thank Robinson for making it possible to play in October, when I hear some old Negro Leaguer praising Robinson for doing something that so many people couldn't, I want it to come from the heart, from the players, from the game of baseball itself. I do not want it to come from Nike.

You can buy Tiger Woods and Pete Sampras. You can buy Ken Griffey Jr. and Michael Jordan. But you shouldn't be able to buy Jackie Robinson. He deserves better.

Can someone get Phil Knight and the rest of these corporate geniuses at Nike to back off for once in their lifetime? And when I say geniuses, I mean it. What these guys do works, works well, works frustratingly well. That's why sometimes I feel like it's Nike's world and I'm just living in it.

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