words // Zac Dubasik

Violence, unsurprisingly, has once again crept into the sneaker world. And this time, fingers are being pointed in an interesting direction. The NY Daily News suggested that none other than Michael Jordan himself should “do something about it.” And by something, author Bernie Augstine suggests that MJ insist on online-only releases.

That’s an easy finger to point, and maybe public involvement from Jordan could help the situation. But that’s also letting Nike and Jordan Brand off the hook. The biggest issue surrounding these releases is simply a matter of supply and demand. More fans want these shoes than can lay hands on the pairs.

Limiting the number of shoes in the market helps create a mystique, and exclusivity surrounding a product has been an essential element of Nike’s marketing strategy for the greater part of the past two decades. However, making enough of these highly anticipated releases to go around would surely help alleviate at least some of these problems.

Online-only is a solution that may sound good on paper, but is much easier said than done, and misses a number of logistical points. First off, many of these releases aren’t limited to Nike-owned stores. Nike traditionally limits partner retailers from selling their products online, and some may not even have the technical capabilities.

Nike limiting these releases exclusively to their own retailers presents its own set of issues, which have already been creeping up, with some longtime partners taking exception to not having access to some of the biggest releases.

There’s also the “bot” problem when it comes to the web. These days, without the use of specialized software created to gain instant access to online releases, chances of scoring anything online are slim to none. Nike has taken steps to slow it down, but these bots are becoming more sophisticated, and at a pace that can’t be kept up with.

More shoes, available over a wider range of time through re-stocks, seems to be a win-win situation. With enough pairs, available often enough, to meet demand, the chances of violence-ridden launches should subside. At the same time, Nike is selling more pairs, thus making more money. That doesn’t mean a shoe like the Air Jordan 11 should be run into the ground, with monthly new releases. But the once-a-year Christmas launch, turning violent, is becoming something we can set our watches to. If the involved parties are interested in fixing the situation, addressing the supply issue appears to be a more realistic solution.

There’s plenty of blame to go around – the majority of which should be aimed at the individuals themselves who create these problems. But pointing to Michael Jordan, and suggesting online-only releases are shortsighted, and unrealistic solutions.