Did Zion’s Sneaker Explosion Hurt the Nike Brand? Nearly One in Five Say ‘Yes’

Did Zion’s Sneaker Explosion Hurt the Nike Brand? Nearly One in Five Say ‘Yes’

Majority feels student athletes should be compensated by sneaker companies for wearing their brands; less support for them receiving pay for playing revenue producing sports

South Orange NJ, March 1, 2019 — It was the sneaker explosion heard round the world, when Duke’s Zion Williamson’s Nike went poof last week in a game against North Carolina. Did all the publicity hurt the Nike brand?

According to a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted this week, nearly 1-in-5 respondents said it was the indicator of the quality of the brand. More than two thirds, 67%, felt it was a one-time fluke.

“That’s a good percentage favoring the one-time mishap,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the Poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. “But 18% (those who felt it represented the brand’s quality), is not a small number. Nike has some rebuilding work ahead – of its image, not just its sneakers.”

These were the findings of a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted this week, with questions asked of 794 adult Americans on landlines and cellphones, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

Compensation for Student Athletes

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans believe that student athletes should be compensated by sneaker companies for the use of their brands in collegiate athletics if they are required to wear the brand, and that students in revenue producing sports – like football and basketball – should receive compensation on top of scholarships and cost of attendance stipends.

On the question of financial compensation for student athletes from sneaker companies – like Nike and Adidas – , the public says “yes” by a margin of 57-36%.

On the question of compensation for participation in revenue generating sports, the margin was closer, with 49% saying “yes” and 46% saying “no.” And while white respondents are in favor of “sneaker compensation” by a 54-41% margin, African-Americans are in favor by 3-1.

While the public is pretty evenly split on student/athlete compensation for play, 49-46%, whites are more negative at 40-54%, while African-Americans are strongly in favor by a margin of 5-to-1.

The 49% overall in favor of compensating student athletes for playing is a significant jump from the result when the question was asked four years ago.  In the November 2015 Seton Hall Sports Poll only 36% said “yes – compensate,” while 57% opposed the idea — compared to this week’s finding of 49% in favor, 46% opposed.

Should Zion Play?
With Zion Williamson considered by many a likely number one draft pick by the NBA, the question of his continued participation in Duke’s schedule arose, considering the millions of dollars at risk should he reinjure himself. By a 47-27% showing, the public felt he should continue playing.

An even wider margin – 59-30% – said that college football draft hopefuls should play in bowl games at the end of their seasons, even with the draft looming. The question noted that a number of them did in fact, choose not to play.

Results breakdown below; this release may be found online at http://blogs.shu.edu/sportspoll/2019/03/01/did-zions-sneaker-explosion-hurt-the-nike-brand-nearly-one-in-five-say-yes/

The Official Seton Hall Sports Poll podcast discussing this topic with Seth Everett and Rick Gentile can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/mt/podcast/seton-hall-sports-poll/id1053266467.


The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.Recently chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to Fox News and most points in between.

This poll was conducted by telephone February 25-27 among adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.  The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 Media: Marty Appel, AppelPR@gmail.com;
Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall
michael.ricciardelli@shu.edu, 908-447-3034


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 110-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received more than 30 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. The University is also proud to be the third most diverse national Catholic university in the nation.

During the past five years, the University has invested more than $165 million in new campus buildings and renovations. And in 2015, Seton Hall launched a School of Medicine as well as a College of Communication and the Arts. The University’s beautiful main campus in suburban South Orange, N.J. is only 14 miles from New York City — offering students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. Seton Hall’s nationally recognized School of Law is located prominently in downtown Newark. The University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses the University’s College of Nursing, School of Health and Medical Sciences and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

For more information, visit www.shu.edu.

The results:

  1. Last Wednesday, Duke basketball standout Zion Williamson injured his knee when his Nike sneaker burst apart 30 seconds into a game. Do you think this incident is an indicator of the quality of the Nike brand or do you think it was just a one-time fluke?


1 – Indicator of quality of brand                  18

2 – One time fluke                               67

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                15


  1. Do you think student/athletes should receive some financial compensation from the sneaker company — like Nike or Adidas — if they are required to wear the company’s shoes due to an arrangement between the sneaker company and the university?


1 – Yes                                                             57

2 – No                                                  36

3 – Don’t know/No opinion               6


  1. Do you think student/athletes should be financially compensated, in addition to a scholarship and cost of attendance stipend, for participating in revenue producing sports, such as men’s basketball and football?


1 – Yes                                                                49

2 – No                                                     46

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                  5


  1. Do you think Zion Williamson, the probable number one choice in this year’s NBA draft, should decline to play for Duke for the remainder of the season in order to insure that further injury doesn’t hurt his NBA draft status or should he continue playing for the remainder of the season?


1 – Decline to play                                            27

2 – Continue playing                            47

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                  26


  1. During the past college football season, several NFL draft hopefuls decided to not participate in their team’s bowl games for fear that injury could negatively affect their draft status. Do you think this was a smart move on the part of the players or should they have played and shown loyalty to their schools and teammates


1 – Smart move                                                30

2 – Should have played                       59

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                 11



  1. How closely would you say you follow sports, very closely, closely, not closely or not at all?


1 – Very closely                                              20

2 – Closely                                           35

3 – Not closely                                     29

4 – Not at all                                        15

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