Nike’s new Carolina Panthers t-shirt design has the nation’s fourth-grade geography students scratching their heads. The shirt features the Panthers logo and the letters NC . . . So far, so good.
The only problem is the fact that those graphics are imprinted over an image of South Carolina.
The Carolina Panthers are an NFL franchise based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. While the team’s official name doesn’t specify which Carolina the organization is based in, it is generally understood that the “Carolina” of the team’s name refers exclusively to the northern state. The t-shirt, which sold for $32, has been removed from Nike’s online store, but anyone who actually got their hands on one has a sure-fire collectible. And, hey, it’s not like Carolinians are at all touchy about the NC/SC divide.
This minor scandal comes a year after Nike ticked off the nation of Ireland by issuing a series of Guiness-related footwear, including one model called a “Black and Tan.” In the US, a “black and tan” is a tasty adult beverage made from Guiness and Harp (or some other pale ale). In Ireland, the phrase has a darker meaning—the Black and Tans were English members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) known for committing atrocities against citizens during the Irish War of Independence. As Ciarian Staunton, president of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform wondered, “is there no one at Nike able to google ‘Black and Tan?’”
Staunton might likewise wonder whether there is anyone at the company who can look at a map and figure out which Carolina is on top of the other. The company hasn’t pointed fingers, but one wonders if maybe this East Carolina University grad might be responsible.