Phil Knight

Topics: Nike, Inc., Bill Bowerman, Athletic shoe Pages: 5 (2059 words) Published: October 28, 2013
Sports in today’s society bring people together and give meaning to many lives. Everyone knows Nike by slogan, “Just Do It”. Nike is the worldwide inspiration to people in all aspects of life. Though, not many people know the story of how started, it did not start out successful. One man was able to create a business that would become an international phenomenon. He is Phil Knight; he is the king of Nike. Born on February 24, 1938, the son to William and Lota Knight, he was a shy, slender passive man. Both parents grew up in Roseburg, Oregon and attended Roseburg High School. William attended University of Oregon and graduated with a business degree in 1932. The couple married in 1937 and then settled down in Portland, Oregon, where William Knight was the publisher of the Oregon Journal, which eventually went bankrupt and had to close its doors (Sowell). Lota Knight was considered a “homebody” or an “invalid’, she never left the house. William Knight was a state representative of Roseburg; he was very high strung and always was pushing Phil to be better. Little did he know, his son would soon become one of the most powerful men in the entire world (Strasser and Bucklunds). While attending Cleveland High School, Knight was cut from the High School baseball team. Ever since he was a little boy he had dreamt of playing his the major league, being cut from the team did not stop him. Phil was a completive person, but sadly, he was not built for contact sports. Nicknamed “Buck” for his lanky body, average height, blonde hair, and pale eyes, he joined the track team and became an outstanding runner (Strausser and Becklunds). Once graduated, he followed in the footsteps of his father and attended University of Oregon, his love of track and running followed him into college, he made himself into a runner with a mile time of four minutes fifteen seconds. Knights coach Bill Bowerman, was more than a coach, he became a business partner and a friend. These two men shared the same love of shoes, they were always thinking of new designs that would make runners faster (Encyclopedia). Knight kept this idea in the back of his head and continued on his career path of accounting and business. After studying at Oregon, he moved on and received a master’s degree in Business Administration at Stanford University in 1963. During his years at Stanford, he wrote a thesis on running. Evidently, Knight concluded that if athletes could focus more on fitness, shoemakers could focus on how to customize and increase output. This thesis paper would become the blueprint of Nike and was always in the back of Knight’s mind. He did not start out his career for a little, he went into the army for eight years, and despite his love for shoes he took a job at Cooper and Lybrand in Portland. Knight married Penelope Parks on September 13, 1968. They had two sons named Mathew and Travis and then they fostered a daughter (Encyclopedia). Knight’s rise to fame was not easy, his brainchild, Nike, was started from a five hundred dollar investment, made into a company named Blue Ribbon Sports. The deal was struck in 1964, when Knight phoned Bowerman with his ideas about running shoes. Both men were convinced that they were going to market Japanese shoes to American athletes. By doing this they could undercut the market and make a tremendous profit. So, Knight began importing running shoes from Japan. Blue Ribbon Sports was founded with a handshake, five-hundred dollars from Bowerman, and five-hundred dollars from Knight, in 1964. This company worked with Onitsaka Company in Japan to sell shoes in the North American market (Nike’s). Blue Ribbon Sports, the name ironically coming from a popular beer bottle, struggled to grow at first. Knight worked as a public accountant and taught at Portland State University, while devoting his nights and weekends to his new investment. At first Knight sold the Tiger shoes out of the back of his car at track meets. The first retail...
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