Is Nike Getting Too Big for Its Shoes?

Concern is growing that the sportswear firm's lavish endorsement deals give it undue power and influence

Every sports fan has seen the flashy TV commercials: Michael Jordan, leaping for the basket, seems to break free of gravity as he goes up, up and still higher up. The trajectory has been the same for the company whose shoes the commercial touts. Since its founding 21 years ago, Nike, the Beaverton, Oregon, sportswear conglomerate, has soared to greater and greater heights, becoming the $3.7 billion-a-year titan of the industry. The key has been Nike's endorsement contracts with such top professional athletes as Jordan, baseball's Bo Jackson ("Bo knows . . ."), football's Jerry Rice and, to a lesser extent,...

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