Page 1 of 2

Just Can't Do It

Niketown exhausted me -- and I wasn't even shopping.

Now, I'm not one of those people who say they liked Bruce Springsteen before anyone else, but I did wear high-top sneakers before they were fashionable. Lately, however, I seem to be lacking the technical knowledge necessary to make appropriate footwear selections.

A Niketown recently opened about 20 minutes away from me. (Soon we'll all be able to say that.) Niketown is a store, sort of. It's more like a shrine to sports heroes wearing swoosh-marked shoes and clothes.

I recognized a black-and-gray map of the world that stretched across half the store, but if marketing and special events manager Mark Sacks hadn't given me a tour, a lot of the other stuff would have escaped my eye. He pointed out a waffle pattern on the glass stairs. That's where it all began for Nike, he explained.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

While handcrafting running shoes for the University of Oregon track team he coached, Nike founder Bill Bowerman used a waffle iron to melt the rubber soles. He and his team were delighted to find that the waffle shape afforded them unexpected traction. It's a beautiful piece of Nike lore, but someone could have held a gun to my head, threatening to shoot unless I explained why those little squares were on the stairs at Niketown, and I'd never have guessed they were a tribute to Nike's waffle-bottomed origins (another irrefutable argument for gun control). I shudder to think of the loss to the sports world and the beauty of Niketown's steps had Mr. Bowerman owned a microwave or a double boiler.

Page 1 of 2
Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.