The shoe game: A story of success and tragedy

Ty’mon Norman

Contributing writer

Jordan Brand, a division of NIKE Inc., is a premium brand inspired by the dynamic legacy, vision and direct involvement of Michael Jordan.

The brand made its debut in 1997 and has grown into a complete collection of sport performance and lifestyle products.

The Jordan Brand remains active in the community through its new corporate responsibility program WINGS for the Future, focusing on three unique community programs emphasizing Education, Sport and Creativity.

However, the “Air Jordan” also revolutionized the sneaker world in other ways. It ushered in the era of violence over apparel.

Neither Nike officials nor Jordan feel they’re creating and endorsing a shoe that would cause for anyone to get hurt because of their footwear.

“I thought I’d be helping others and everything would be positive,” Jordan said. “I thought people would try to emulate the good things I do, they’d try to achieve and to be better. Nothing bad. I never thought because of my endorsement of a shoe, or any product, that people would harm each other. Everyone likes to be admired, but when it comes to kids actually killing each other—then you have to re-evaluate things.”

Now, the Jordan Brand is by no means to be held responsible for people’s actions over their products, but company officials do need to be aware of the growing popularity of the product and how owning a pair can be the difference between life and death in many of America’s cities, neighborhoods, playgrounds and schools.

I remember when I was in high school during the ‘90s, and the shoe game was really starting to take place with the nation’s youth.

It was all about what shoes you were wearing, how you were wearing them and what brand or series of a certain brand you owned.

Those trends still are relevant to today’s youth, however, with the ever-increasing popularity of sneakers such as the Jordan Brand along with other well-known shoe companies (Adidas, Reebok, Converse or Timberland), it seems the violence has decreased in regard to shoe- or apparel-related deaths.

It still happens but the number of incidents is lower. This is not to say the problem isn’t still there though.

In a country that has long been hung up on style over substance and flash over depth, the athletic shoe and sportswear industries suddenly have come to represent the pinnacle of consumer exploitation.

In recent months the industries, which include heavyweights Nike and Reebok as well as smaller players (Adidas, Converse, Pony & Starter) have been accused of creating a fantasy-fueled market for luxury items in the economically blasted inner cities and willingly tapping into the flow of drug and gang money.

This has led to a frightening outbreak of crimes among poor African-American children trying to make the mark by having “fresh kicks” or dressing at the height of fashion.

Now in 2011, we’re faced with even more pressures to so called “fit in,” and the dangerous side to it all now is it is being presented to our youth as a personality definer, more than an act of individualism of ones character.

Another factor is that the shoe game has transcended age groups, cultural backgrounds and even economic status.

Adults and children alike are now united in their efforts of obtaining the hottest shoes available on the market.

It actually amazes me that the violence has subsided and that may be due to the accessibility of brand name shoes and apparel.

Stores such as Ross, Marshalls and even charitable agencies such as the Goodwill and Value Village provide these brand name products at an affordable cost.

With that said, I don’t foresee the popularity of clothing going away, but we definitely need to be aware of what can happen when supply doesn’t meet demand, especially now with the country going through its economic ups and downs.

This is an epidemic people are living and dealing with. Until we can stop senseless acts over high-priced shoes or clothing, we’ll continue to hear stories similar to this one:

Fifteen-year old Michael Eugene Thomas, a ninth-grader at Meade Senior High School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was found strangled on May 2, 1989. Charged with first degree murder was James David Martin, 17, a basketball buddy who allegedly took the victim’s two-week-old Air Jordan basketball shoes and left his barefoot body in the woods.


The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

The shoe game: A story of success and tragedy

by Contributing Writer time to read: 3 min