Topics: Bill Bowerman, Nike, Inc., Oregon Sports Hall of Fame Pages: 5 (1553 words) Published: September 30, 2013

History of Nike

Nike, who currently ranks as 136 in the fortune 500 for America’s largest corporations, has come a long way since its humble beginning of in the 1960’s. Founded by visionaries Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight who at the time had no clue how much of an impact this footwear would make in the marketing world. Bill Bowerman was a track and field coach at the University of Oregon with enormous amount of knowledge on athletics and was always looking to help his players maintain the advantage. “Bowerman's 24 years as coach at the University of Oregon, he developed many of the world's best distance and middle-distance runners, among them Steve Prefontaine and Alberto Salazar. He won four National Collegiate Athletic Association track and field championships, and he coached 44 all-Americans and 19 Olympians.”(cite) .

Here’s a little bit about the history of Bowerman’s family. “William Jay Bowerman Jr., a descendant of pioneers on the Oregon Trail in the 1840's, was born in Portland and raised in Fossil, a town in eastern Oregon, and in Medford. He was a quarter-miler and a football blocking back at the University of Oregon and was accepted to medical school after graduating in 1934. But he became the track and football coach at Medford High School instead and, after serving as an Army officer in Italy during World War II, embarked on his collegiate coaching career. In 1949, Bowerman became the track coach at Oregon, where Bill Hayward established a formidable reputation as coach from 1904 until 1947. A man with a commanding presence, Bowerman seemingly overlooked no detail, even hand-crafting his athletes' shoes, as he built his own reputation.”

But Bowerman's footwear experiments brought a personal cost. Glue he used contained hexane, whose fumes permanently damaged his neurological system, leaving him with a limp and forcing him to wear a leg brace. Bowerman coached the United States men's track team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich at which Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. The track team had a disappointing performance -- Prefontaine finished fourth in the 5,000 meters -- and Bowerman would call those Games the ''worst experience I've had in my entire educational and athletic life.'' The following March, he retired from coaching, but he remained with Nike. In addition to Prefontaine and Salazar, Bowerman's celebrated athletes included Dyrol Burleson, Jim Grelle, Kenny Moore, Wade Bell, Mac Wilkens, Arne Kvalheim of Norway, Jim Bailey of Australia and Harry Jerome of Canada. ‘He combines the best features of the country philosopher and the mad scientist, the promoter and the recluse,'' Runner's World magazine wrote. ''He considers himself more an experimenter, teacher and popularize of mass-participation track than a recruiter and coach.'' Not only was his passionate about sports but he was always an entrepreneur when it came to experimenting with different types of track surfaces, re-hydration and running shoes. Bowerman began cobbling shoes for his runner with the help of one of his former runners Phil knight. Phil Knight who was competed for Bowerman’s track program was originally from Portland and began his college career at Oregon in the fall of 1955. After his graduation from Oregon State, Knight earned his MBA in finance from Standford University. Knight first came up with the blueprint for what would become the world's No. 1 athletic-shoe company while working on his master's degree at Stanford University. Assigned to write a term paper on starting a small business in an area he knew well, the former University of Oregon track star naturally chose running. He outlined a plan for breaking the stranglehold Adidas had on the running-shoe market by using cheap Japanese labor to manufacture a cheaper, better-quality running shoe. He made a cold-call on the Onitsuka Co. in Kobe, Japan, and persuaded the manufacturer of Tiger shoes to make Knight a distributor of Tiger...
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