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Written by Dexter Gordon (@swcdex)
When it comes to sneaker releases, there is one truth that has been getting harder to ignore: violence still exists. Thanks to the growing interest in the culture, some people will stop at nothing to get that elusive shoe, even if it means hurting another person or doing damage to property.
Take for example last year: an Atlanta teenager named Joshua Lofton was shot down this past October after trying to allegedly steal a pair of Air Jordans during a Craigslist transaction. Just last month, a 15-year old boy was robbed in Arlington, VA for a pair of Foamposites, while videos of people brawling inside sneaker stores over the Gamma XIs also hit the Internet. And just last week, a 20-year old Chicago man was shot and killed as he tried to buy a pair of $1,800 Air Yeezys.
What causes this problem? There isn't just one factor. The exclusivity of these sneakers is one issue because you probably won't get the shoe you want at retail price if you don't get them on day one. It’s crazy to think that there was a time where you could just got to your local sneaker store a few days (or weeks) after a release and get that pair that you’d been dreaming about for months. And no matter what the price, no matter what the production level, there will always be have-nots.
Companies have tried to make things better. We have seen the introduction of sneaker sweepstakes, raffles, and RSVP systems, which, while technically fair methods, all make it nearly impossible to get your holy grail unless you are blessed with a hookup, a bot, or a stable Internet connection.
Can safer sneaker releases at retail (or online-only releases) stop violent acts?
And still, stick-up kids are down to jack people on sight for a pair of sneakers. I’ve heard stories of people getting stabbed or getting jacked once they got off the line for their shoes. I myself almost fell victim to an incident when the Air Jordan VI “Olympics” dropped two years ago. My sister and I were first on line. Five minutes before the shoe dropped, there was a mad rush from the front of the line. All of a sudden, fists and elbows were thrown by these kids who were saying that they were “here the whole time” or “my homie was saving me the spot." Luckily, the manager sold us the kicks, sent us through the back exit and advised us to take a taxi home. That was the last time I ever camped out for a shoe.
During that time I was thinking, “Is this shoe really worth my life?" The obvious answer is no (I hope). Recently, a writer for the New York Daily News issued a proposition on how to keep sneaker releases from turning into violent spectacles. The writer felt that Michael Jordan should be more involved about how his sneakers are released. He stated: "Jordan undoubtedly wields incredible power within Nike, and if he said he was tired of seeing his namesake on the nightly news over video of brawls at malls across the country, the sneaker giant would certainly accommodate him.”
It's easier said than done. Can safer sneaker releases at retail (or online-only releases) stop violent acts? KickGenius released a video that gives us an inside look on someone’s mentality when a shoe is released. It follows a sneakerhead’s thought pattern that led him to make a deadly decision: take someone's life for an object of his desire.
This reflects a darker side of the sneaker culture, where one's wants clouds their ability to make proper decisions. Don't get lost in the hype folks; it's not worth a life—theirs or yours.