Nike makes ‘tone-deaf’ bushfire gaffe
NIKE has been accused of being "tone deaf" when describing its new apparel designed to keep players cool during "fiery conditions" at the upcoming Australian Open.
As horrific bushfires ravage Australia, tennis stars like Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and Sam Stosur have pledged to donate money towards the relief effort, while ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner has announced $100 will be donated for every ace served. John Millman is also on board.
But Nike put its foot in its mouth when spruiking a new knee-length bodysuit to help female players beat the heat at Melbourne Park.
"Melbourne also tracks the hottest temperatures of any of tennis' four majors," the article on the Nike website read.
"Averaging more than 100 degrees (37 degrees Celsius), the heat challenges players and, in turn, NikeCourt's apparel designers to outduel the fiery conditions."
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg pointed out the gaffe on Twitter.
Juuuust a bit tone deaf here, Nike. pic.twitter.com/2wHl52PbP9— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 3, 2020
Many Twitter users commented on Rothenberg's post.
"Oh dear," one person wrote, while another added: "Tone deaf to the point of disrespectful."
The phrasing about Nike's Melbourne collection was later amended on the website.
"This garment is informed by Atlas body-mapping to identify the areas that tend to overheat (notably under the bra and at the neckline) and is pieced together to maximise breathability in those spaces," the text read.
The awkward error comes as sports stars unite to play their part in helping bushfire victims.
Kyrgios admitted it was tough to focus on tennis as the fires devastated Australia, and his hometown of Canberra remain front of mind. But he is comforted by the "powerful" feeling that came with every one of his 20 valuable aces in Friday's ATP Cup-opening defeat of Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff.
The world No.30's impressive 6-4 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Struff helped Australia to a 1-0 lead in Brisbane. Each ace meant $200 out of the Kyrgios pocket in an initiative he announced after originally proposing an exhibition fundraiser via Twitter on Wednesday.
That led to Tennis Australia on Friday announcing a "Rally for Relief" event on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 15.
Struff's 15 aces meant a total of $7500 was raised in just over 70 minutes at Pat Rafter Arena, with the ATP Cup also contributing $100 for every ace to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief fund.
"Seeing my hometown being on alert and having the worst air quality in the world, it's tough to go out here and concentrate on tennis," Kyrgios said. "Every ace I was hitting that's all I was thinking about ... and the crowd would be louder than usual (after an ace).
"It was on everyone's minds; it was powerful."
Tennis Australia will also donate proceeds from a Jessica Mauboy concert on January 19 to the Red Cross appeal and grant $1 million for communities to rebuild tennis facilities.
"I'm glad the tennis world has taken the initiative and hopefully we can do whatever we can," Kyrgios said.
"We all earn a lot of money and at this stage a bottle of water can save a life."
NBA-bound LaMelo Ball, who plays for Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, pledged to donate one month of his NBL salary to help victims of the devastating fires.
"People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out," he said.
Big Bash League captains, Brisbane Heat's Chris Lynn and Melbourne Stars' Glenn Maxwell as well as Hurricanes batsman D'Arcy Short, have all pledged $250 for each six they hit in the competition.
As a mark of respect there will be no fireworks at Saturday's Melbourne BBL derby, where Renegades jerseys will be auctioned off.
Former Australian baseballer Simone Wearne kickstarted a campaign to donate for every home run hit in the Australian softball championships and a number of WNBL players have also got in on the act.
Australia's cricketers will auction off signed shirts from the Boxing Day Test while Cricket Australia will throw open the gates to firefighters during two SCG one-dayers against New Zealand in March, also using the trans-Tasman series as a fundraising drive.
Melbourne A-League clubs Victory, City and Western United will also donate $2 from every ticket sold at their matches this weekend.