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Nike cowering to Karens shows how AWFL America has become

By Matthew Delaney

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

Sometimes the smallest, most random things put the bigger picture into perspective. 

While perusing Nike’s website for Christmas gift ideas, I came across their clothing line for NBA star Kyrie Irving. I didn’t like what I saw and I found the description of this apparel line a bit weird. 

“Graphics symbolize Kyrie’s journey through life” was the text alongside hoodies, tees and sweatpants that were seemingly next to Illuminati pyramids and the like. To be honest, I thought the clothing sucked. Kyrie had already said the same about how the newest shoes in his line looked. 

And yet, that wasn’t really the point. 

A brand that has long been known for celebrating controversial athletes in ad campaigns – John McEnroe, Charles Barkley, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and most recently, Colin Kaepernick – passed on the opportunity to promote Irving for his own “controversial,” unvaccinated stance. 

Maybe that’s because some of Kyrie’s sillier beliefs (the earth is flat and dinosaurs aren’t real come to mind) make him an easy target for the nerdy bullies who run our society. Maybe it’s because Nike wouldn’t want its own vaccine mandate for employees to come under a hypocritical light if they started a campaign for Irving.  

Let me spare you the deep thought, because it’s simpler than that: Nike didn’t want to piss off the moms who are their big consumers and purse-holders for the teen demographic they target. 

At the same time, they didn’t want to alienate their significant black American (and likely, unvaccinated) clientele who are the only ones who’d look at the Irving-brand hoodies and shoes and read the description. 

If Nike promoted Irving the same way it did other controversial athletes, it’d risk losing the dollars of moms and teens. The company that can’t be bothered to stop using slave labor in China made damn sure it didn’t step on Karen’s toes this holiday season. 

There’s actually a better (and funnier) term for Karens that’s emerged online: AWFLs, or Affluent White Female Liberals. 

The sentiments of AWFLs have been our society’s weathervane for, at least, the last decade. 

Guess who wanted gun control measures implemented after Sandy Hook, and then again after Parkland? And who drove the MeToo Movement and its witch hunt for “male predation?” 

They may not always follow the liberal/Democratic party line. They could just be suburban white women who set the tone for our times. 

Who was most responsible for electing Donald Trump, and then Joe Biden four years later? And who had enough of their kids being called racist oppressors for the past year and voted for anti-Critical Race Theory candidates? 

Suburban white women are the most powerful voting and consumer bloc in this nation. Shit, they may be the most powerful force on this entire planet right now if you consider how Covid-19 is approached by governments. 

Every new variant is treated with a histrionic panic. It prompts mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and shame as the primary enforcement method. 

It can feel as if there’s this composite Helicopter Mom ruling over the lives of people living in New York and San Francisco and my city of D.C.. Like those moms, they are driven by an irrational aversion to any kind of risk. Of course, their need to avoid risk is really a need to control, because without that control they have no sense of themselves or their purpose. 

As a guy, it’s embarrassing to go down this road of thought. We – yes, we – let it get to this point. We’ve told ourselves we don’t need to honor our instinct to protect and provide. We’ve tacitly acknowledged that going for something we really want, and having to accept that we might fail in getting it, is the one feeling we must not embrace. 

When that’s the case, it’s no wonder we’ve run into the eager arms of AWFL Helicopter Moms that give us a cubicle “office” and encourage us to be terrified of catching a cold. If we have no appetite for risk in our own lives, how can we expect the powers that be to trust us to manage them? 

It’s our role as men to take the lumps of charting a better path forward. An itch for heroism is one that never goes away, but only if we’re being honest with ourselves. That doesn’t mean we’re all made to be world-changing figures with statues dedicated to us. It simply means showing courage when you know it’s demanded of you.  

If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t stand in the way of men like Kyrie who are legitimately sacrificing something on their own journey. That journey is one of the many atoning for the misery we’ve all come to accept as the “new normal.” Or else welcome the smothering arms of our anointed Karens because you know they don’t like letting go.

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Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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