Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios' temperamental behavior, and frequent perceived lack of effort, are the subject of a new online Nike ad. But not everyone is happy with the message it seems to be sending.
The ad, which is really more of a branded GIF, features a photo of a screaming Kyrgios whose head is surrounded by animated clouds and lightning bolts. The copy line is, "Dark clouds never got in the way of talent."
First of all, that's wrong. The whole problem with Kyrgios is that he doesn't try hard enough on the court, and has been officially reprimanded for it at least twice. He's also unstable enough that John McEnroe, himself no stranger to being a jerk, has called him out for it.
That's, like, the definition of dark clouds obscuring talent.
But more to the point, the copy line about "Dark clouds" has angered some mental health advocates, who say it minimizes the difficulties experienced by people with mental problems.
You could also interpret the message as, "Mental illness can be defeated through ability/grit/brute force." A lot of people have interpreted it that way, and given the "Walk it off" attitude so prevalent in modern sports, I can understand why.
In any case, advancing the discussion of mental illness in athletics is a lot to ask from what's essentially a tweet. But if you're willing to embrace the risk of using a controversial athlete to sell stuff, you should be open to deeper considerations, too.
For what it's worth, Kyrgios doesn't seem to have a problem with the ad. He posted it, along with a second animation, on Twitter this week.