08.22.12

Bad News For Mushnick : Gregg Doyel Just Wrote Phil’s Next Column

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 3:12 pm by

The top-shelf edition of Nike’s new LeBron X shoe carries a list price of $315.00, a sum CBS Sports.com’s Gregg Doyel (above) finds discouraging.  James, ‘still uses kids as pawns, whether it’s the Boys & Girls Club he held up like a human shield when he went on national television to announce he was taking his narcissism to South Beach — or whether it’s this. Shoes most of his young fans can’t afford.” Presumably LeBron’s allowed to hawk products to adults, too?

Poor kids are gonna find a way to buy the $315 LeBron X. Some of them, the dorks and losers, will settle for the $180 brand that doesn’t come with the bells and whistles and street cred of the most expensive version, which will apparently tell a kid more than his quickness or vertical leap. The $315 version will also tell a kid he’s cool, he’s secure, he’s valuable because he’s wearing shoes that other kids want.

And there’s merit in that, come to think of it. Self-esteem at any age is valuable, but for a kid it’s priceless.

But LeBron is willing to put a price on it. Your self-esteem is worth $315, check payable to Nike, royalties due to King James.

LeBron is trading on the most vulnerable part of his fan base: their self-image. He knows there are kids out there who will do whatever it takes to slip their feet into the same shoes worn by LeBron. How does a poor family, the kind of family in which LeBron grew up — born to a single mother, LeBron and his teen-aged mom moving from apartment to apartment, LeBron spending chunks of time with other relatives because his mom couldn’t feed him — scratch up the three bills for a pair of LeBron X shoes?

By “poor kids are gonna find a way”, I sincerely hope Doyel is referring to paper routes and mowing lawns. Because if he’s suggesting even for a second that James oughta be held accountable for inspiring criminal acts, let’s review for a minute some of the items hawked by other celebrity pitch-persons ;

Derek Jeter – Ford Focus ($15,650.00)
Michael Phelps – Omega Seamaster Watch ($3450.00)
Peyton Manning – Sony Bravia 55″ flatscreen ($1810.00)

Of course, no one has ever committed a crime or spent beyond their means in the pursuit of automobiles, jewelery or high-ticket appliances. I don’t know if you’ve seen the stats, but almost 99% of all violent crimes in this country are sneaker-related (source : Phil Mushnick, NY Post).

3 Responses to “Bad News For Mushnick : Gregg Doyel Just Wrote Phil’s Next Column”

  1. Rog says:

    This was covered in the famous legal case of Apples v. Oranges. These types of arguments are made best with a little bit of context and I think that most of the stuff you listed are overpriced luxury items (except for that Focus that Jeter totally drives around Manhattan) but they are fairly priced within the CONTEXT of their industries. I think that the argument that Mr. Doyel *should* be making, and for which he deserves plenty of criticism for missing, is that that the price of the LeBrons is overpriced for its category which is athletic shoes, not luxury dress shoes or the high-end fashion stuff that women on 5th Avenue wear. Another obvious angle is that this shit is another way to enslave a bunch of poor people who sew the shit for $.10/hour in 3rd world countries and that the price tag reflects a really huge profit margin that Ford probably does not enjoy (given the union labor, legacy pensions and other overhead). Again, I’m keenly aware of the context, in this case profit margin.

    As someone who is not white and grew up poor in a shitty violent place (and who doesn’t romanticize it), I can totally agree with this dude that there is some really shitty conspicuous consumption happening in our neighborhoods…and its not like these kids are being raised to have paper routes or jobs at the family store. Its an issue worth exploring on both sides, but the comparison to stuff that is priced pretty averagely within their industries versus some rubber and plastic that sees a much broader profit margin is the point, I think. I can always see the point of view that most people on here can’t see because I’ve lived it and our capitalist system creates demand and desire that is really very cruel and sadistic in poor neighborhoods, ethnic or otherwise.

  2. GC says:

    “These types of arguments are made best with a little bit of context and I think that most of the stuff you listed are overpriced luxury items (except for that Focus that Jeter totally drives around Manhattan) but they are fairly priced within the CONTEXT of their industries.”

    And I’d imagine Nike is making the argument that the high-end version of LeBron X is also meant to be an elite luxury item. Michael Phelps could wear a Timex. Peyton Manning could stump for Radio Shack. Instead, they choose to hawk flashy, big ticket items. They’re not specifically targeted towards persons who are non-white and living in poor neighborhoods, but I would suspect more than a handful of persons hoping to acquire a pair of LeBron X’s are, y’know, white and well off, too.

    On the enslavement tip, you’re 100% right. And as I’m typing this reply on a computer that was almost certainly manufactured under harsh working conditions, I’m an accessory/participant in the same exploitative system you cite.

    The thing is, there’s always gonna an attempt to tap into human anxieties, the “demand and desire” you allude to. Gigantic learning centers named after Joe Paterno (or Phil Knight’s mansion) didn’t just build themselves. If Doyel would like to see greater social conscience on the part of Nike and LeBron, I can’t argue with that sentiment, but they’re not the first or the last commercial monoliths to do this sort of thing. On the consumer end, it isn’t my place to say someone else’s priorities are fucked or that they lack basic common sense/will power. Mushnick’s been hung up on Nikes and Starter jackets (hands up if you’re old enough to remember those) since the dawn of mankind, yet there was no similar critique when Bill Parcells took to the small screen to sell Lincoln Continentals. If more people were being killed in the pursuit of basketball shoes and satin jackets than during car robberies, the fellas at Rockstar Games should’ve come out with “Grand Theft Mitchell & Ness”

    bad jokes aside, I’m all for less shitty conspicuous consumption. Those who can afford it the least are more likely to suffer from it than say, Ron Perelman, but I don’t think we can say which companies oughta take it easy on the greed any more than we can demand one segment of society become less materialistic than another.

  3. Rog: I don’t think it’s fair or useful to lay social or individual materialism on Nike, or even capitalism. I’d say it’s just the way we are.

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