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Nike’s Hijab: Empowerment Or Cash Grab?


[Editor’s Note: Paul is on vacation and will return to the site on March 9. Today’s content is by assistant editor Alex Hider.]

By Alex Hider

Nike announced yesterday that it will begin selling Muslim headscarves for female athletes. The “Pro Hijab” will reportedly be made of light, stretchy polyester. Tiny holes in the fabric will keep it breathable, but prevent the hijab from being see-through: An Islamic requirement.

It’s apparently a product in demand for female Muslim athletes. There are similar products already on the market, but Zahra Lari, the figure skater in the above image, said yesterday that it’s hard for her to find a lightweight hijab for athletic wear.

Considering the timing of this announcement (Nike has apparently been designing this for a year, and it won’t go on sale until next spring) and today’s political environment (President Trump signed an executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations not 24 hours before Nike unveiled their hijab), it’s reasonable to think that Nike is trying to make a political statement. Personally, I think it’s great they’re sticking their necks out for Muslim women and girls.

But I can’t help but feel queasy when I see that swoosh.

Muslim women wear a hijab in the name of modesty. But it feels to me that the second Nike added its logo, it instantly turned the hijab into a status symbol. They have just found a way to turn a religious garment into a designer accessory.

Then again, I don’t practice Islam, nor am I religious scholar. Are there any Muslim readers out there that could offer some perspective?

• • • • •

But wait, there’s more religious headwear!

Israel is already the talk of the World Baseball Classic, having scored two major upsets in their first two games. In addition to sporting perhaps the snazziest cap design in the tournament, the team has also taken to donning yarmulkes during the country’s national anthem.

Will Shoken notes that Team Israel yarmulkes were being sold on (they’ve since been removed from the store). However, the team has been wearing a different design on the field.


It’s been a while since we’ve seen an athlete wear a kippah on a major athletic stage. Northwestern and Tulane basketball player Aaron Liberman may have been the last one ”” am I missing anyone?

Israel team members have also taken to wearing these awesome “Jew Crew” shirts, which borrow from the Brewers’ classic Barrel Man logo. And as Shark Tank fans will recognize, the “Mensch on a Bench” is the team’s mascot.

It’s no wonder why this team is playing so well.

The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News:  S000, did China pitcher Bruce Chen forget his cleats, or what? … A pitcher for Mexico took the mound yesterday against the Padres with no name or number  (from Brian Mazmanian). … Yadier Molina has some  wild gray hair  (from  Mike). … Reggie Jackson was spotted wearing a 2009 Yankees cap at Spring Training yesterday. Note the new Yankee Stradium Inaugural Season patch (from Mike Hazekamp). … Mono color-on-color happens a lot during Spring Training, but it’s mostly red-on-red or blue-on-blue. It’s not often we see green-on-green (from Harry F. Higgins). … Speak of the devil, the Nats and Red Sox went red-on-red yesterday (from Garet). … A Phillies beat writer came across this strange Ryan Howard jersey yesterday (from Frank McGuigan). …  Got $2,000 lying around? You could be the proud owner of this 1983 Mariners Camaro.  …  The Asheville Tourists will wear  “Beer City” jerseys  on June 1 (from  Doug Maurer). … Texas Tech wore some slick throwbacks last night.

Football News:  Check out this football card  of former Vikings tight end Joe Senser. It seems he didn’t quite fit in his helmet, so the equipment manager taped two jaw pads together (from  Bill Kellick). … The University of North Carolina is replacing its natural grass field with  synthetic turf. It will also be wearing Jordan uniforms next season  (from  Dan Burke). … They always say you play as well as you look (from  Lucas Stoller). … No arguments with the top spot in this MAC uni power ranking. #SUAC (from James H. Jimenez).

Basketball News: Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics appeared to be wearing an  old jersey  on Monday. Note the NBA logo on the left shoulder (from  David Gregory Upton). … We already knew that the Nets would be wearing an ugly-ass Infor logo on its jerseys next season. But according to  Will Lawson, the company logo is currently stamped on aisle seats in the Barclays Center. …  This New York Times piece about the resurgence of college basketball in New York has some  great shots of City College  playing at the old Madison Square Garden (from  Tommy).

Grab Bag:  Hockey player Joe Thornton recorded  his 1,000th assist, and the San Jose Sharks made a  graphic playing off the NHL’s 100th anniversary logo  (from Tyler Johnson). … This women’s ice hockey team in India has some wild unis (from  Mezz). …    Minnesota United FC played an exhibition game in the rain on Monday, and their  gray NOBs couldn’t quite stand up to a wet jersey (from  John Gurnick). … Here’s one you don’t see every day IQOB (Inspirational Quote On Back). …   Australian rules football player Darcy Vescio is currently leading the AFL Women’s League  in goals. She’s also a graphic designer that makes well-known food items into costumes (from  David Dyte). … Cool move by DIII Ripon College, who inked a contract with a local company, Ripon Athletics, to supply all of its athletic uniforms  (from Wolfie Browender).

Comments (53)

    “Here’s one you don’t see every day IQOB (Inspirational Quote On Back)”: We’ve seen these already.

    From 3/4: “Anyone watching Sweden’s national women’s team play this week should take a close look at the back of the players’ shirts – the team has ditched its traditional logos in favor of messages of empowerment.”

    I would love to know why took the yarmulkes off the website. Did they sell out? Or was it political?

    I personally would love to see team Israel take the WBC. I’m even okay with only one player actually being from the Holy Land (kind of like team Italy). But it isn’t like the team is full of current major leaguers. Most of these guys are has beens (like Ike Davis) or retired or are career minor leaguers (Ty Kelly). This is like a Triple A team. So when they go against the likes of the current MLB stocked DR, PR, US and VEN, it will very much be a David and Goliath story. I’ll root for team US – but wouldn’t mind seeing Israel win.

    Same here, Jack. If they play as well as they look they’ll have a chance.

    More than likely they just sold out. Some of the Israel t-shirts that were available early on sold out, so it’s reasonable to believe that so did the kippot.

    Just got around to reading yesterday’s UW. Tom Gola most likely was wearing a scapular – a piece of brown cloth with a religious picture on one side. I don’t know about back then, but now one can get a scapular medal on a chain…better for when one is getting all sweaty.

    One thing that is fundamentally wrong with the Israeli national team: some 20% of that country’s population are muslim and christian arabs. Are non jew israelis rooting for them or just feeling like second class citizens?

    I think you have a valid point. It would be better if the team reflected the diversity of Israel. I am hoping that having an automatic berth in the 2021 WBC gives them the time and motivation to move towards those ends.

    As far as this Classic goes, I just don’t know how you create a more diverse roster. Israel’s “Right of Return” laws grant automatic citizenship to anyone with Jewish ancestry. The WBC rules say you need to be eligible for citizenship or have a citizen parent to qualify for the roster. I am not sure there is anyone playing organized baseball that has an Arab-Israeli parent. Ultimately, if you’re looking to build the strongest possible roster, the most effective way to do so is build it out of American Jews. Hopefully, given four years, they can maybe look for Americans with Arab-Israeli parents and try to get them qualified, or better yet bring a handful of native Israelis of all backgrounds to the 2021 Classic.

    @ pedro Israeli Jew here to answer your question re whether “non jew israelis [are] rooting for” the WBC team. No, probably not, for political reasons that, out of respect for Paul, I will not address in this forum.

    Arabs as “second class citizens”? Nice canard there. I doubt my Arab dentist, my daughter’s Arab doctor, or any of the other Arabs with whom I regularly interact feel like “second class citizens” as they enjoy their lives in the only representative democracy in the Middle East.

    Believe it or not, Arabs and Jews can get along just fine here, but don’t let silly facts get in the way of your “fundamentally wrong” fantasy!

    That wasn’t an anti-israel comment, sorry. My point remains valid: the uniform and logos of a national team, any national team, should not represent a single religious group. Don’t get hung up on the words “fundamentally wrong”, that’s just the way I speak (I’m a bit pompous I’m afraid).

    I got a good laugh when I saw the Israeli baseball team with the “Jew Crew” shirts. I found it funny and I imagine it’s just a clever way of helping form team unity.
    I was however curious that their hasn’t been an outcry from some people who think it’s “offensive”. Let me again stress I have no problem with the shirts as I think they’re kind of silly and no big deal. I’m struck wondering however what would happen if a team with African-American players began to wear shirts with “The Black Pack” or if a team of Caucasian players wore shirts emblazoned with “The White Crew”? My point here is that I find is fascinating that some people seem to have selective faux outrage when certain groups use language they deem “offensive” while other groups say whatever they want and get a pass. There is a lot of intolerance toward free speech these days as one group of people tend to brand another group “hateful” or “facist” if they don’t agree with them. Let’s hope the Israeli team keeps winning and wearing their funny shirts.

    I suppose you could draw the line at when teams seek to profit from the use of derogatory names of groups of people, and not buy their crappy merchandise.

    Ask Dan Snyder about that.

    A protest usually says as much about the offended as it does about the offenders.

    I find it interesting that some people show “faux interest” in the fact that different groups of people with different histories of being discriminated against might react differently to language.

    I find it interesting that people don’t look into history deep enough to realize that every one of us has an ancestor or two who were discriminated against and that having “outrage” about a t-shirt doesn’t have one ounce of an effect on that history.

    Re: Nike hijab
    There are already loads of hijabs in the Emirates that are status symbols. And in states where women aren’t allowed to drive they have diamond-encrusted phones and eye-wateringly expensive handbags to make up for the fact that they don’t have a Bentley to show off. There’s always something. Nike isn’t early to this party. It’s been going on for some time.

    Thanks for the perspective, Ben. Good to know that the “hijab as a status symbol” has been happening well before entered the game.

    Minnesota United was not playing an exhibition game. That was the season opener for MLS, with all of the other teams starting the season over the following weekend. It was also Minnesota’s first official match as an MLS club. These kits are supposedly just going to be for the first season as adidas had a late start on designing them when it was only announced last year that they would be joining the league this year instead of next. Plan to see something closer to this next season. link

    Perhaps only in terms of the darker gray color. I don’t know if that excellent loon-wing design will make it to the shirt again, especially if it “has to” be defaced by a corporate advertiser.

    I would not expect to see a loon wing anywhere except in a shadow striping. Adidas won’t go that specific in a template – at least I suspect not.


    Nice move by Ripon College to buy ‘Murrican first and to point out the ugly, soft underbelly of cheap labor and lousy working conditions that is the lifeblood of the Uniform Industrial Complex.

    Now if they would only pay the players their share of the profits. No one goes to a college sporting event to see the facilities, faculty or the uniforms. It’s not what ON the uni, but who is in the UNI that we shell out coin for in my HO.

    I actually don’t know if I agree with that, especially with college sports. People will generally root for their school (or the name ON the uni, in this example) regardless of who is actually in that uni.

    I’m a Muslim man. I know many women who wear the hijab and participate in sports. As you’ve pointed out, there are already products available. This is purely a business decision by Nike. It’s no different than selling headbands, socks, shirts, emblazoned with a logo.

    Unfortunate typo in the first paragraph of the story linked to in the ticker about the women’s ice hockey team in India. It seems to want to talk about the team’s lack of a proper rink, but instead says they lack “a proper kink”.

    Interesting to see the UNC Kennan Field turf replacement mention here. As recently as December the school was saying they’d ultimately decided against replacement and were sticking with grass. link I wonder if the decision changed again or if the school website didn’t get updated.

    I’m a UNC grad and follow the Heels pretty closely. This is the first I’ve heard about the change, and am kind of bummed about it as Kenan has always had a really well-maintained and beautiful grass field.

    Thanks for the DTH link. I hope you’re right and the website is just behind the times.

    (This post is longer than I thought it was going to be, sorry.)
    UNC is NOT replacing the Kenan Stadium field with artificial turf. They ARE replacing the sidelines with turf because the field will be used for football practice while the on-campus indoor practice facility/soccer/lacrosse stadium is built replacing soccer/lax stadium, and the field hockey stadium, and the football practice fields.

    To those familiar with what Duke did when they replaced their football field it will look similar, but with wider sidelines. Here’s a mock-up I did based off a picture: link

    The fence and hedges around the field have been removed. There’s been some kind of fence around the field for a long time, but the green one with which most Tar Heel fans are familiar seems to have been there since the late ’60s or early ’70s. I’ve tried to date the hedges using photos from online archives and digitized UNC yearbooks. The best I can determine, the hedges were planted after the 1982 football season and before 1983 commencement exercises in Kenan: link.

    As much as I liked the look with the hedges, they’ve only been in the stadium for 34/90 seasons, and only a full grown box edge for probably 20-25 years. UNC won FIVE ACC football titles before the hedges were planted, but did not won an ACC championship while they were there. Coincidence? Yeah probably. Georgia had substitute hedges ready to go when they removed the original ones for the 1996 Olympic soccer matches. I’ve heard nothing about this for UNC so I can envision the hedges not returning.

    Because of this construction it was announced the spring game will be played on Fetzer Field (the aforementioned soccer/lax stadium). I don’t know how 2017 commencement exercises will be affected.

    The 1964 yearbook can give an idea of what a Kenan Stadium field with no fences or hedges could look like (tried to line up scans of opposing pages): link

    Empowerment or cash grab?

    Why can’t it be both? Muslim women want hijabs. Nike wants money. Everybody wins.

    If Nike didn’t put its logo in a such a prominent spot it still would have made plenty of money.

    That logo is really huge as far as these types of “maker’s mark” ads go. And practically at her eyeline, which you don’t get with jerseys or caps.

    Great catch on the old article. Like many readers of this site, I find corporate logos tiresome. Yet, many people are fine with them or even want them. I imagine that the model in today’s article will be available to athletes without the swoosh, but many may want it, even if they aren’t paid extra for it.

    The reason we notice it in particular is that it is a novel place, with its large size on the head and no other distractions shown.

    Never mind Bruce Chen’s “cleats”… that’s the darkest grey I’ve ever seen on a grey jersey!!!


    Then you haven’t seen the Diamondbacks’ road uniforms; it seems that Majestic is pushing that color for many of the WBC away uniforms.

    I, for one, really dig the darker grays. I do, however, think that darker numbers and lettering, such as Cuba, should have a white outline to keep from blending in with the darker background.

    I live in Maine, which has an incredibly visible and growing Muslim community. I’ve seen many Hijabs, some one-color, some with beautiful patterns. I even saw a handful of Muslim women with American flag hijabs during the Womens’ March. I’ve never once seen a corporate logo on a hijab – or any logo.

    Grrr… I love the Israel hat and shirt… but this stuff in the $30 range? Grrrr.

    I know this has been talked about before and is beating a dead horse.

    But I’d love one of the two or both. But not for that price!

    people keep saying that $30 is too much, mostly due to them remember the “good old days” when they could buy a fitted NE hat for like $25 dollars. what they seem to forget is inflation, where as $25 back in the late 90s is now in the $36 range now.

    $30 is fine by me. I was at Spring training in Ft Myers last week. $45 t-shirts and $75 polos are outrageous, though.

    I’d never buy it, but my wife bought me a $45 Yankees t-shirt for my birthday. Every time I wear it I jokingly point out that I’m wearing my $45 t-shirt. I guess people are willing to pay those prices, or they’d be cheaper, right?

    I don’t think inflation explains it entirely. In the big box retail store for which I work, we’ve been selling new release movies for $20 for a good 15 years now, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn even farther back than that. The latest & greatest video games have gone for $60 for over a decade now, but some games retailed for even more than that a decade or two prior.

    I’m sure there’s an element of determining what people are willing to shell out for Product X. If enough people buy it, such that profits don’t drop, then the company has little incentive to attempt to reduce their cost to produce said item and/or the consumers’ price itself.

    As a Muslim woman (who rock climbs) there is no way I would wear this hijab. It simply feels wrong to have a corporate logo on my hijab. Islam teaches equality as human beings before Allah; status symbols such as corporate logos have no place in the religion.

    Mexico pitcher w/o name/number – He was probably a minor league Padres pitcher. MLB teams are “loaning” pitchers to the WBC teams they play – they wear blank WBC jerseys. This was discussed during the Pirates-Dominican Republic game this afternoon when a Pirate’s minor leaguer was pitching for the DR team.

    That NY Times article mentioned in the Ticker has a very cool video of CCNY hosting BYU back on Dec. 7, 1950. One of the strange things that surface in these old sports clips is pronunciation that seems so antiquated from today’s viewpoint. Announcer Ed Herlihy pronounces BYU’s Cougars as “coo-GARS.” Seems everyone today says “coo-gers” but the second syllable IS spelled with an “a” so I guess he’s correct. Another idiosyncrasy I’ve noticed in sports announcers from 70 years ago is the habit of pronouncing Los Angeles as “los angle-es” using a hard “g” as in “guess” instead of the soft “g” (as in “fringe”) that we use today.

    The Hijab is a symbol of oppression for women. It’s not empowering at all. It’s dumb to celebrate it like it’s some great symbol of women’s empowerment.

    Another interesting point in timing of the hijab release is Under Armour coming under fire for Kevin Planks recent support of President Trump. While it is simply sour to not appreciate the initiative, you have to question the timing due to recent political events.

    It’s a scarf. I see women in stores with a Hijab and for the most part, I think they look beautiful. But it is at the point now where my 63 year old wife (not a Muslim) can’t even wear a scarf without drawing looks. People are sick.

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