Sunday, July 21

The Dam Truth: UCLA needs to speak up against Under Armour CEO’s pro-Trump comments

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank spoke at UCLA after announcing a 15-year, $280 million with the athletics department. But Plank recently came out and called President Donald Trump an asset to the country, leading to widespread backlash from Under Armour athletes like Stephen Curry and Misty Copeland. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank spoke at UCLA after announcing a 15-year, $280 million with the athletics department. But Plank recently came out and called President Donald Trump an asset to the country, leading to widespread backlash from Under Armour athletes like Stephen Curry and Misty Copeland. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Nothing is politics-free these days – not even sports gear.

The lines in the sand have been clearly drawn between those who have spoken up to defend equality and those who are staying silent.

A majority of coaches and athletes have been vocal, criticizing a divisive president’s executive orders affecting Muslims, women and immigrants as well as his overarching offensive rhetoric.

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank hasn’t been one of those figures.

[Related: UCLA Athletics set to leave Adidas, join Under Armour in 2017]

Plank, who has been invited to Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, recently praised the commander in chief, saying that having “such a pro-business president is something that’s a real asset for this country.”

He’s entitled to his own opinion and actions – but so are the athletes and schools that wear his brand and fall under the Under Armour umbrella.

NBA star Steph Curry, ballerina Misty Copeland and former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are some of the biggest faces of Plank’s company.

They’re also some of his most vocal critics after he voiced support for Trump.

Curry said he agreed with Plank “if you remove the ‘et’ from asset” before elaborating to the San Jose Mercury News.

“Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it’s only about making money. That’s not the priority,” Curry said. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am. That’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up.”

Copeland followed suit, saying that she and Curry both spoke with executives about Under Armour’s commitment to equality.

I have always appreciated the great support and platform that Under Armour has given me to represent my community, gender, and career on the world stage. However, I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported. Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief. I have spoken at length with Kevin privately about the matter, but as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.

A post shared by Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe) on

UCLA, which is set to become Under Armour’s West Coast flagship school this July, hasn’t been as vocal or decisive.

A spokesperson from the athletics department simply directed me to Under Armour’s generic statement, the company’s thinly veiled attempt at mitigating the backlash and talks of boycott by talking about the value of diversity and saying how they were against the travel ban.

For now, Plank hasn’t said anything more about Trump or about the potential loss of Curry, Copeland or Johnson.

But UCLA, despite the 15-year, $280 million apparel deal, should have spoken up and should be prepared to speak up and step away if Plank, with his position in the Trump administration, continues to side with one of the most divisive and controversial presidencies in American history.

Like Curry said – it’s about more than the money. It’s about the values and messages that UCLA aligns itself with.

One of the most diverse schools in one of the most diverse cities, in a diverse and progressive state, should not sit by and watch the fray.

Silence has not been an excuse and does not bode well for a legacy.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

UCLA is full of good people – student-athletes, professors, coaches, students and even huskies that can be found every afternoon at the Bruin Bear.

So I’ll be cheering on the Bruins next season.

But don’t expect me to be wearing any UCLA or Under Armour gear if both continue to stay silent.


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  • Stuck

    Hyperbole – exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

    Context – the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

    Since no one wants to ever listen, watch or read comments from the source here’s a copy of the entire comment on Trump from Plank. Please remember he was asked the question about Trump because he is on a committee with other business leaders trying to come up with ideas to foster job growth in the U.S. The question was asked in that context.

    Here’s the complete comment about Trump:

    “I think he’s highly passionate. To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity. He loves to build I don’t think there’s any surprises here. When you look at the president he wants to build things. He wants to build things he wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of publish and iterate versus think, think, think, think, think. So there’s a lot that I respect there.”

    So what are you protesting? What is so horrible about the comments? Is it horrible to be pro-business? Is seeking to grow the economy and add jobs bad? What complement is inappropriate or is it just not OK to say anything positive about any aspect of the new president? Is saying he is passionate or wants to build things too positive?

    What part of his comments should he apologize for? Why can’t someone point out a positive or perceived positive aspect about the new president without becoming an object of scorn? People seem to go out of their way to find things to be offended about.

    Plank didn’t endorse Trump, he didn’t “side with” the president, he didn’t even praise him without context. He mentioned a few positive things in the context of growing the economy and adding jobs and his participation on the committee. That’s it.

    I encourage everyone to watch the entire interview on CNBC or at least the question and answer about Trump which occurs at about the 21:47 minute mark of the 26 minute interview. If that won’t change your mind nothing will.

    Don’t be a victim of deceptive headlines and quotes being taken out of context. Don’t allow yourselves to be manipulated. Stop being sheep.

    • Davis

      So happy to see this reply – exactly what we were thinking. Thank you Stuck for taking the time to bring the discussion to the Adult table in a common sense manner.

    • TNO

      Very well said. It’s a damn shame that people don’t do their research anymore, and take everything the media spits out as factual. The days of using common sense and rational thought to form an opinion are soon coming to an end.

  • Zev Allison

    I remember seeing stacks of the Daily Bruin all over the campus and thinking “should I take one?… Naw.”

    THIS is why. The articles posted are dripping with one-sidedness and intellectual dishonesty. If he had come out in support of Trump’s travel ban or something, I’d understand, but he is a BUSINESSMAN who came out in support of Trump’s PRO-BUSINESS policies. This article is a ridiculous ad-hominem attack on a man who did nothing more than point at a policy and say “yay!”.

    The Daily Bruin has become a rag because of articles like this one, and makes me ashamed to be an alum.

    • John

      Nice – that makes two of us ashamed you’re an alumn.

  • ML

    I cringed reading this.

    The CEO of a large company said that he likes how our President supports business, and somehow this article gets written. The author even quoted MLK and essesntially compared pro-business comments to racial segregation.

    What a joke.

  • Jay

    I applied for a writing position with the Daily Bruin as a journalist and photographer who is a student and have done paid work as well. My application got denied by the students in the club. No wonder this is the kind of rubbish out of there. This is no reliable news source, but a school club for friends and select individuals. Nepotism has tarnished this paper – read for humor.