People are freaking out about a new Nike advertisement featuring English striker (that’s a forward for you non-soccer fans) Wayne Rooney.  I think it’s ridiculous, and not just because England is my second favorite football team (Go Brazil!). 

A lot of people think the Union Jack is England’s flag.  WRONG.  That’s the flag for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have individual flags.  England’s flag is white and red sporting St. George’s Cross.  In some sports, like soccer, where the countries within the UK compete separately, you won’t see the Union Jack, you’ll only see the English flag (hence the white and red uniforms with a cross…).  I’ve got mine flying high in my apartment.

If you look at the English flag and you look at the Rooney advertisement, the only difference is that one design is printed on fabric and one is painted on Rooney (much like football fans are known to do at a match).  So critiques of the design and unfounded, unless they are inherently offended by the English flag itself (which they don’t appear to be).

Critics describe the ad as:

  • “a battle cry from the dark ages”
  • a “throwback to the Crusades”
  • “truly horrible”
  • “horribly war-like”
  • “crass, offensive, and insensitive”
  • “looks like blood”

Sigh.  These people kill me.  He’s a sports star.  It’s the World Cup.  If he looks aggressive in the picture, that’s not an accident — being tough is a necessary part of sports.  Don’t try to feminize male athletes.  Let them yell.  Let them perform.  Let them play sports.  The picture is simply re-creating Rooney’s trademark post-goal celebration.  The paint “looks like blood” because that’s what red body paint looks like — take a look around the stadium during England’s match on Sunday (10:30 AM vs. Ecuador) if you don’t believe me.  I guarantee you’ll see fans with body paint and face paint of the English flag.