NIKE – Just do it…?
TrackTown Oregon aka Eugene, Nike's company town, may have bitten off more than it can chew or digest.
Eugene was awarded the 2021 outdoor track and field championships usually a monopoly of cities like Beijing or Paris. But with Oregon boosters such as then Oregon Secretary of State, now Governor Kate Brown and Oregon’s premier sports apparel company, Nike – Eugene got the nod.
This may be a case of “be careful what you wish for” since the awarding body, The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is in the middle of a doping and bribery investigation. The Oregon connected wheelers and dealers have been linked to Nike, of course. Predictably, Nike isn’t talking.
So stay tuned – Eugene and Oregon could be put on the map in the worst possible light of day. Where “Uncle Phil” is involved there is smoke and if so there may be fire.
International attention focuses on Eugene…
A parallel saga is immerging with the Nike connection to OHSU and it’s Knight Cancer Research initiative. OHSU successfully matched the $100 million dollar challenge grant from Phil and Penny Knight as early funding money for the Knight Center.
This required $200 million from Oregon taxpayers and more from local philanthropy. As with Lola what “Uncle Phil” wants he gets.
While the goal of the Knight Center, to be located in the South Waterfront development district below Pill Hill on the Willamette River, is early detection – this latest crap shoot at the "war on cancer" may not pan out in the long run. You can’t just declare war on the big C.
One could question the premise of the goal. We know that cancer is related to environmental and economic factors. In the Portland air shed it is documented that such diseases cluster around areas subjected to industrial pollution where communities of color reside.
Why not invest in more primary care for low-income families who live in such areas – as NE and North Portland along the 1-5 north corridor? Most experts agree that primary care is the most important kind of care just as early education is. But that have the "sizzle" factor. .
And if one knows anything about Phil Knight and Nike – there’s a huge corporate ego involved in a state that has few home grown big box corporations. Intel doesn’t count because it’s a California based company albeit Oregon’s largest employer.
There is also an economic development "play" here which former state economist now chair of PSU's econ department, Tom Potiowsky noted - such a research center "helps the reputation of your city [and state] which has always taken second fiddle to its neighbor to the north.
Knight Center will add immeasurably to Oregon's medical industrial complex but like many other centers there is no guarantee a silver bullet aimed at cancer will be discovered. That takes the synergy of expertise, collaboration and good luck...
The Nike connection to TrackTown and to cancer research as with the elusive goal of a national football championship for Qauck U may turn out to be a bust not a boom no matter how many “mercenary” scientists are lured to PDX or QB’s from the Big Sky are recruited!
"One never knows, do one!" - Fats Waller