Under Armour (NYSE: UA) tweeted that it supports athletes who have sat or kneeled during the National Anthem. It also says it supports the flag, which is a symbol of what the athletes have protested, which among other things is free speech. It is a clever way for the company to try to have its cake and eat it, too by taking a portion of both sides of the argument. In the meantime, it also exposes Under Armour to criticism about the statement.
The tweet read:
@UnderArmour stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America.
Does Under Armour stand by athletes which are not among its endorsement team? Does “Athletes” mean all athletes of just some? The tweeted statement shows the limits of the use of Twitter.
The use of Twitter by Under Armour as a public relations tool for management to make this kind of statement about the company’s philosophy is rare. Almost every tweet by @UnderArmour is about the company’s athletes or products.
Perhaps Under Armour management believed it had to get into the fray because the battles suddenly include not only President Trump who attacked the protests and what he sees as disrespect for the country and a growing number of athletes who have attacked Trump in return. Under Armour is, after all, nothing but a set of endorsements and athletic apparel. Among those was from basketball great Stephen Curry who said, according to The Washington Post:
Among athletes who have made direct statements was basketball great Stephen Curry who said, according to The Washington Post:
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Curry said after that practice had concluded at the team’s facility in downtown Oakland. “I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals, rather than others.
“I have an idea of why, but it’s kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That’s not what leaders do.”
Under Armour might have been better off to stay silent, even if its statements on Twitter are an accurate reflection of what its board and management believe. The company has put itself in the midst of what has been an ugly fight, and as such has now become part of the fight itself.