When Marketing Goes Awry: #NinjaPlease


Editor’s Note: This post focuses on the subject of race in lacrosse and marketing, and some readers may find some of the language used below offensive or objectionable. It is our feeling that an honest conversation will not exist if the story can not include the actual words, and phrases, which create the issue.

Warrior Lacrosse recently used the now infamous #ninjaplease hashtag to promote a new product giveaway via social media, and the phrase also appeared on product pages on their website, as well as in partnership promotions with Major League Lacrosse through their social media.

Once the MLL learned about the brewing controversy, they removed all of their tweets supporting the promotion, and to keep you 100% up to date, we have learned that Warrior has also pulled their side of the campaign.

Jovan Miller took exception to the marketing move publicly, before it was pulled, and gave away all of his Warrior equipment as a result, on Twitter. Deadspin then reported it to the world, and a new negative lacrosse story hit the community. Or did it?

Warrior Lacrosse Ninja Please Marketing Campaign

Instagram image from Warrior’s #ninjaplease marketing campaign before it was pulled.

Some people out there may be wondering why this is a big deal, while others are more likely to already be enraged. So please allow me to explain the situation a little more fully, and hopefully, I can shed a little more light on the issue from both sides, so that we can begin to learn and move forward again.

The phrase “Ninja, please” has been around for a while, and it seems to possess a slightly confusing etymology, at least for some. A simple google search results in three very different etymologies and meanings, and they are, in order of Google Results appearance:

  1. Used to replace “negro please”, which in turn replaces “nigga please” – Urban Dictionary
  2. Show off your love for the dark martial arts and ninjas, which are undoubtedly awesome. –
  3. The term “Ninja Please” originated due to the increase in Asian popularity. This popularity of Asian Americans became statistically apparent through the use of YouTube. Many of YouTube’s highest subscribed channels were created and operated by Asians. This brought on a new generation of Asians that were breaking all the stereotypes.With this new found popularity, many Asians were seeking a defining word to bring homage to their fellow Asian brothers and sisters. “Ninja” became that word. The use of this term “Ninja” can be best described through this incredibly hilarious YouTube video: ( – Know Your Meme)

I guess that’s “incredibly hysterical”…

While Miller has been one of the most vocal, and outraged, people to speak on this subject in the lacrosse community, he is not the only one. Nor is he the only black lacrosse player to make his opinion known. Chazz Woodson, a former Brine (Brine is owned by Warrior) player, posted some thoughtful points on Facebook, and shared some more thoughts with me when I spoke with him:

The topic can and should be addressed in a constructive way; a dialogue or discussion, rather than an argument over right and wrong. I, personally, have this fascination with honest discussion. There’s no progress unless people are willing to be honest rather than to sugar-coat what they feel. At the same time, we can be honest without being dismissive, adversarial, or blatantly and willfully ignorant.

This particular situation gives us an opportunity to have an open discussion about race in our sport. One of the main hurdles is the idea that when issues of race are brought up in America, it’s often overlooked as not a big deal, or as if the person or persons that bring it up are overreacting. It’s not always nothing, and it’s not always an over-reaction. We can’t overlook the fact that the racial issues still exist.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see something when it doesn’t affect you day in and day out. Despite their track record of questionable marketing, I don’t think Warrior had intentions of offending anyone. But at the same time, now that it’s done, I don’t think it’s something we should ignore, or that it doesn’t matter.

Warrior Lacrosse Ninja Please Marketing Campaign

An example of the now-defunct social media campaign around #ninjaplease.

Woodson continued:

If we can build understanding on what is behind an expression, I think we can all move forward together. For instance, I never thought of the Asian component to the phrase, until it was brought up in a comment on my original Facebook post. But now that I know about it, I’m more aware. If used correctly, this is a “teachable moment” for us all. It’s an opportunity to gain perspective.

Payu Nerngchamnong, the head of the Thailand Lacrosse Association, had a slightly different perspective, and read on things. He had this to say:

I believe that it is unacceptable for a global company (or company of any size for that matter) to use a marketing “slogan, or phrase” that potentially risks offending one or more ethnic groups of people. No amount of money gained from it is worth setting the progress we made in our society with racial sensitivity backward, nor turning any culture in to a “punch line”.

As a member of the modern society I find it inappropriate. As a member of Asian lacrosse community, I am offended that Asian references are being used as a vessel to indirectly offend the black community.

It is also not necessary to use the offensive “Dojo” reference, to identify the Asian (or Japanese) origin of the name of the shoes. I wish that in the future lacrosse companies would take more responsibility, and be more careful about these kind of things, especially now that we’re a more global lacrosse community.

Payu’s comment brings up the use of the word Dojo itself, especially for a shoe product, and begins to explain why that can also be concerning. The idea of a Dojo is sacred and the word has a monasterial history. For some in Asian culture, the feet are the least revered, or dirtiest part of the body, so to name a shoe after a sacred space of learning shows an additional lack, albeit unintentional, of cultural understanding.

When I learned the above (I wasn’t fully aware of the feet belief either before doing some research) I began to see how there are inherent dangers any time race or culture is used for commodification, and how easy it can be to miss things. Something, which means nothing to one person, might mean a lot more to someone else.

Dojo Training Shoes on

Dojo training shoes on, The Ninja Please portion has been removed.

When I contacted Warrior for a response to the issue, a Warrior official offered the following statement, explaining how the promotion had been pulled, and issuing an apology:

Warrior did not mean to offend anyone, and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the #ninjaplease promotion. Once we realized that the campaign was being received the way it was, we pulled the social media campaign, deleted the tweets, and social media references, and reached out directly to Jovan Miller to explain our position.

Seeing as one of the top three online descriptions of the phrase’s origins points only to a craze about ninjas, and how cool they are, I can see how the company thought it might be irreverent or even funny. And just as Chazz said, it is unlikely that Warrior’s aim was to offend people. The slogan is all over the place, and does seem to be generally popular. The argument might not hold water for all, but it is plausible, and I have seen nothing to suggest it was anything but what Warrior contends.

However, one must also assume that some amount of research went into this campaign, and once the connection to the phrase “nigga please” became evident (it is the first search result after all), the campaign direction probably should have been given a second look internally. Now that this issue has come up though, it is heartening to see both Warrior and the MLL pull the promotion, and address it head on.

There are really three sides to this issue, and we are curious to know where you stand.

1. Did the blurry etymology and common usage make it okay?

2. Is this a big deal for which blame should be assigned?

3. Or is this an opportunity? And an issue that our community shouldn’t be so quick to sweep under the rug?

For me, the first option doesn’t fly. I personally found it to be offensive, as did many others, and I would rather not see the topic just dropped by the wayside. The second option, of outrage, seems like an obvious answer to many, but I sincerely fear that the path of anger will not lead to increased understanding, and I believe continued progress is key, especially here.

Just look at some of the “intelligent conversation” going down onion the comments sections of other sites, to see an example of this need for further understanding:

Classy conversation right here.

For me, this serious issue smacks of opportunity. It is an opportunity to think, learn, and empathize with your fellow man. It is an opportunity to question your own views, and have a real discussion with someone who may feel differently.

It’s a chance for everyone, including Warrior, to come together and be better moving forward. It is not the end of a marketing campaign, but hopefully, the beginning of a passionate, intelligent discussion.

So now that you have heard what I think, what Warrior has done to make it right, and what some big time lacrosse figures think, we want to hear what YOU think!

Is #NinjaPlease-style marketing something that the Lacrosse Community should be worried about? How can we move forward, together, from here?

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.


  • Perhaps now that people have spoken out against this, we can start to work on the sexual innuendos and everything else that Warrior does that garners an eye roll.  It’s disappointing when 1 of the 3 major lacrosse brands continually markets as if they employed nothing but 13 year old boys.  Time to end the locker room mentality and grow up.

    • I have to share the pessimism of Christopher on the idea of Warrior actually enacting change as a result of this.  The reality of the situation is that the lacrosse companies are in fact run by privileged white males (no different than any other industry!).  For true change to occur, time must work to increase diversity among the movers and shakers of the sport.  We are lightyears beyond where we were ten-twenty years ago, but the minorities in lacrosse represent grains of sand on a beach in the grander scheme.  Just keep chipping away.  We all grow stronger with the more minds and faces that pick up a stick.

  • While I do actually agree that “Racism” is all too often pointed out for anything that involves an African American, when there truly is no racism in play…I believe this one to be more credible than not.
    I would like to know what Warrior will to do make this right with Jovan, if they choose to do anything. It will be interesting to see.

    Finally, to be honest, my initial thought to “ninja please” was nothing racist but of Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson and his “Child Please” as a substitute for F**k.
    Anyone else think of that?

  • But on the same note STX uses “Katana” as the name for one of its shafts… Asian reference, yet no one is up in arms.  Dojo reference to shoe is offensive, but Katana is not.

    • Warrior’s continued use of words and phrases that push the line are what make it more offensive; STX has always had pretty moderate ad campaigns, so I think more people feel comfortable giving them the benefit of the doubt – that they were making a reference to the sword more than the culture: curved and fast.

        • I find the Dojo being offensive a bit of a stretch but if someone finds something offensive it’s not my place to tell them they’re being too sensitive. I think all Payu was saying is that we need to be careful, the line between racial and racist can be pretty thin at times.

          • Chewy, this is just demonstrate how often the American general public “overlooked” the CULTURAL aspect of it that both Connor and I pointed out about Dojo… since you live in America all your life you may not come across THIS aspect of the Asian Culture. Let me explained further it with a additional example:

            Feet is considered as one of the lowest, and dirtiest part of the body. And there is a STRONG taboo around it (agree with it or not thats besides the point). You can’t even use the feet to point/gesture or touch another person, never mind the older person. That is why REAL Asian athletes DO NOT put the flag of their country on their footwear. To us, it’s no different than stepping on a flag, or wrapping your feet in your country’s flag. Not a big deal to America, it’s a big deal here.

            Dojo may be look at as another place of Martial art through Western culture in recent days, but like Connor said it is more deep rooted than that as it’s a religious place/ and place where one acquired necessary learning on all things (including martial arts). And to name it after a sneaker is a bit beneath the meaning, and showing the lack of cultural understanding. It’s not a question of “use anything asian” is offensive, it’s HOW in which it is use.

            Katana name is a reference is to a sword i.e. weapon, how many time do people refer their lacrosse stick as a side arm, or a weapon of sort… (or calling the game is war/battles etc.)? It’s an acceptable fit to the product they’re selling, not just a name but the characteristic of the product. Where of the Dojo sneaker is “just the name” in an attempt capitalize on the popular Asian culture, without any reason behind it. And they try to incorporate the Asian reference further with “Ninja Please” dispute what it is risking to offend because of the roots of the phrase. 

            I think showing the Samurai picture with the product that call a Katana, is not the same as using a phrase that can be misunderstood or referring as “nigga please”, it would have been different if in their marketing they focus on a picture of ACTUAL Dojo, that would fall in the same Universe as STX ad. Instead they have their lacrosse players wear street gears with the shoes, and highlighting the word ‘Ninja please” instead… to some that can be view as the “asian theme” is not a primary part of the campaign. But the opportunity to use a “hip” urban culture phase, and get away with it… as they have done before with racy reference. Just time time the hand got caught in a cookie jar.

            To be fair, some Asian, or Blacks may not find it offensive that is true… But are we weighting the acceptance of the word through the number of “body counts” of people who are offended by it? no. We are in a “plural” society, a global one as well. We need to learn to exist and avoid doing thing that potentially could offend another group of people, and vice versa… that it has to be within reasons. I think the name Dojo is on another level compare to the “phrase” we discuss now, and we should detract from it. Yes, perhaps we can just look pass it, if it were by it self. It was simply worth mentioning that it can be look at as offensive as well.. that’s all.

            Great post CW.

          • whoa whoa… just because I have lived in America my whole life does not mean there in any disconnect between me and the “Asian Culture”, and though I am proud of my Filipino heritage, I bleed the Red, White, and Blue for sure.  And “real” Asian athletes… is there such thing as a “fake” Asian athlete?  By implying “real”, means that there must be an opposite to that which would be “fake”.  Right about here is when one of two things happen.  You go on the defensive/offensive, I go on the defensive/offensive, etc. etc., and things go bat-$#it crazy, OR you say, “Chewy, you know that is not what I meant.”, and I come back with, “Payu, you know that is not what Warrior meant either”… Bottom line, in all things global, we will end up having to agree to disagree.

          • Two things Chewy, and I apologize if you misunderstood what I’m trying to explain. So take a moment and read the following clarification:

            1. When I said you may not understand because you live in America is because there are part of Asian culture (like the taboo with feet) that you have to live in Asia to understand, just like there are many cultural thing in America that unless you live in America you wouldn’t understand. I was fortunate to split my life in both region and able to understand. It’s not a question of whether or not you are “proud” of your heritage. It’s two different matter entirely.

            2. When I said “Real” Asian Athletes, it reads: Athletes from continental Asia who understood the meaning of why you SHOULDN’T put anything your respect (in this case a flag or country’s name) on the their shoes. It wasn’t directed AT YOU, it was to covered the possibility of any Asian American who doesn’t understood these significant come out and say “hey I’m asian and I have flag on my shoes” in responds to my statement. 

            Hope this help…

          • Ok I see that, but with that said, would that mean “Fake” Asians would put their countries flag or name on their shoes?  #RealAsian_vs_FakeAsian

          • It you want to simplify it that way or belittle my point that’s fine. I think you are now bringing the issue away from the cultural sensitivity. 

            I’m saying there are those who would “nit-picking” the statement for the the enjoyment of just being difficult and simply lost track of what other trying to communicate. 

          • And there are those who are trying to “nit-pick” the #ninja_please campaign as well as the Dojo shoe…  Jovan Miller makes a great point, a point that he as an African American athlete has the right to voice and take action upon, BUT did social media and band wagon activists turn it into more than what it should be? 

          • “Katana name is a reference is to a sword i.e. weapon, how many time do people refer their lacrosse stick as a side arm, or a weapon of sort… (or calling the game is war/battles etc.)?”… could this not then be misconstrued as the promotion of violence… #Playing_Devils_Advocate 

          • Perhaps, but the issue at hand is not about violence… and even if that’s the case, people should take that up with STX, or protest in constructively. It seems to me people doesn’t see it that way.

            However, what we are talking about it the use of the phrase that doesn’t make sense by it self… But it is a reference to derogatory phrase, that they could have avoid. As Will Patton mentioned above: “the term “Ninja Please” is a clear and obvious pun on a phrase using a hateful black slur.  Whether Warrior meant harm, or that there are likely black individuals not offended by it is not the point.”

            THAT is what an issue here, and if you found out what Warrior meant. Instead of “cop out” and saying “we didn’t know what it mean, or refer to” please let me know.

          • OK, so since the #Ninja_Please campaign is a clear and obvious pun on a hateful black slur… why whould Asians be mad about it?  Also, where were you in regards to speaking against the “Dojo” term/name of the shoe when it launched months ago.  Maybe you posted about it months ago, and I just missed that post, but you seemed pretty offended by the use of the word “dojo” in the quote below… 

            “It is also not necessary to use the offensive “Dojo” reference, to identify the Asian (or Japanese) origin of the name of the shoes. I wish that in the future lacrosse companies would take more responsibility, and be more careful about these kind of things, especially now that we’re a more global lacrosse community.” (Payu, 11/2012)

          • If you really have to ask: Perhaps I do not have time, nor am I interested in “scanning” for ALL the names of the product lines, and see whether or not it’s offensive. I didn’t even know they have a product call Dojo until the issue pops up. And it was part of the conversation.. and I simply just pointed it out.

          • And I’ll add that I am NOT offended by the use of Katana by STX, and I’m not even remotely offended by “Dojo” or “Ninja”. 

    • @connorwilson:disqus there are no guidelines on the debate and discussion of terms or phrases that can be deemed culturally offensive, but what happens when it is one where a double standard is often times argued.

      “50 Cent’s debut album, Get Rich or Die Trying (2003), shows how popular the word “nigga” is in the lyrics of rap songs. His album sold 872,000 albums during the first week of release in February 2003 breaking the old record of 803,000 set by Snoop Dogg’s 1993 album, Doggystyle (both albums were produced by Dr. Dre). The new rap sensation from Queens, New York used the word “nigga” a total of 131 times in his debut album, and his hit single In Da Club, which had the word “nigga” in it nine times, was the number one single on Billboard chart during April 2003. Rappers almost always used the word “nigga” in a casual way.” (Alonso/, 2003) ( is as ghetto a reference as it can get)

      The reference above was used to illustrate that over a decade ago, the term was being used lyrically, without adjustment (N-word to #Ninja), and millions of dollars were made, the music was bumped throughout clubs worldwide from the US, to Asia, to Europe, and even in South Africa, and  yet we still bought there next albums. 

      Rap is a very culturally diverse market, with rappers and customers being of ALL colors, including Asians.  And the N-word has, is, and will continue to be used in POP Culture/ Rap music.  Kyle Harrison’s “Top 5” songs all are by rappers that regularly use the term, and Kanye West even has a  new song titled “N**** in Paris”, yet no one chastised him. 

      Now I know that I am not the leading source on all the equal rights, or “real/fake” Asian, or lacrosse, but if one industry makes millions is not billions on the direct use of the N-word, can another industry not at least get witch-hunted when using the phrase #Ninja_Please. 

      • you seem to believe (correct me if I’m wrong here) that because rap lyrics include the n-word so often, that this debate should not exist? Or that it’s less of a big deal? If so, I really don’t get it.

        Just because one group decided to go one way on an issue does not mean another group has to do the same thing. Rap did not set a precedent for all N-word conversations moving forward. ALSO, some people did have a problem with the language. It’s been an ongoing debate for years actually.

        What you are effectively saying is that because someone else is doing it, we should be able to do it too? I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I live my life.

        I understand you personally don’t have an issue with any of this stuff, which is fine. And I’m glad you are willing to have a conversation about it. But I do find it troubling that you are so quick to downplay someone else’s concerns, just because YOU don’t see it that way.

        And one more thing… this is NOT a witch hunt. Warrior has NOT been marginalized or attacked here. In fact, it’s been a pretty amazing and enlightening conversation so far. Why would we want to sweep that under the rug?

        And if you think racism doesn’t exist in America, or that we don’t need to talk about this stuff, look at the Tweets Jovan Miller has received because of this, and prepare to be SHOCKED and OFFENDED. Those tweets are as good a reason as any to have this conversation (NOT witch hunt.).

        • And just like the #Ninja_Please campaign, my message was not as clear and could definitely be misunderstood to say that the N-word is alright.  I did see the posts via Twitter that came about attacking Jovan after his post, and I definitely feel that comments like that of #JC_Goetz are in the wrong for sure, and that Jovan Miller has a right to be offended by the term.  And I am 100% not singling out or you Connor as going on a witchhunt, because you just posted a piece to start the convo and it has evolved since than, but there are many who have decided to take it past conversation and take it to the next level, i.e. #JC_Goetz, and in my opinion going extreme on either side is totally ridiculous.

          Maybe my “emotion” on the #Ninja_Please campaign, and playing of devils advocate on this, comes from the fact that @twitter-131036889:disqus still hasn’t been able to define to me the difference between “Real/Fake” Asians which I found to be somewhat offensive since I “live in America my whole life”.  And I might have just lit the fuse of a firecracker that I could regret, but while we are talking about cultural equality, why not discuss what the difference is since he refers to “real” asians quite a bit.

          • I think Payu noted that his “real/fake” comment was not perfect, nor did it come off as intended. Like a lot of things in this conversation, intent vs interpretation is a key issue.

            The point was not that the DOJO shoes IS offensive, but that it could be. The NinjaPlease tag might not offend you, but it might offend others. Etc.

            The “real vs fake” issue has clearly offended you a little. Yet you continue to ask WHY others are so offended by these other things… can you not see the hypocrisy there?

            The point here is that a conversation is a good place to start increasing understanding, whether it is about hashtags, product names or real vs fake culture. I think we can all say we’re learning more about others, and that is a good thing.  THAT is why we can’t sweep this under the rug. the opportunity is simply too great.

          • Now we’re getting somewhere.  The difference between #Ninja_Please and “Real vs Fake”, is that #Ninja_Please was a play on words that became offensive as soon as we were able to see the connection between Ninja and the N-word; and the “Real vs Fake” have been direct digs with a number of “Real” references.  Obviously there is the one in this post, that he has somewhat said was not meant to reference Real or Fake or what not, and but then there was this, “Things a heating up in the South East Asian region for lacrosse development, or at least for the real Asian lacrosse programs.”, and there are a couple more like when he had beef with the other Thailand lacrosse group.  But in all of them, there was no play on the word “Real”, it was the actual word “Real” often italicized or bolded or quotation marked, etc.  Now we could go on and on, and I have definitely exhausted the Real versus Fake debate to somewhat explain my feelings on #Ninja_Please, but at the end of the day…  We all grow the game, just in different approaches.


          • And there it is.

            You finally saying what really get you to. If you really want to go down that route, sounds like the chip on your shoulder really took over this whole conversation about something else.

            1) Yes, I had issue with Philippines lacrosse’s policy which contradicts what was promised when I was ask to help advocate, negotiate for and supports the program. So I resigned, and withdraw my support. I have worked with/built Singapore lacrosse who are filled majority of expats. They’re on the ground there, and use their personal contact in the U.S. to send or even fly in in the quest of lacrosse development… it’s not “easy” but it’s not hard either. You just willing to put in the work. I’ve worked with people from Malaysia, Uganda and now Jamaica who take it serious in doing whatever it takes to get lacrosse going there. It’s the “behind the scene” stuff that people doesn’t want to do, and we don’t mind doing it. 

            2) The Fake program I referred to is the program that do not yield or make real attempt in development “on the ground” in those respective country as FIL intended. Yes, not all team has funding we do.. but shouldn’t the first glimpse of money that gathered in fund raising for Philippines lacrosse go toward a trip to the Philippines? Not a trip to Costa Rica. If you say it’s not enough, then why not saved up a little more until you CAN go to the Philippines. It takes the team effort, if you say the reason you won’t go because of money, or “the guys doesn’t want to go” then they shouldn’t be representing the Philippines. I did reached out to help, even to the local Fillipino gov. to get people on the ground there to connect, and offer financial assistant.. 

            Also the supports from my self, and the companies I brought along to get you to at least compete in the tournament that located IN ASIA Which all you have to do just pay for the airfare, we take care of the rest: waived tournament fee, hotel, local transport, free uniforms etc. just ask HKLA, and SLA.. (but you know this). To help with the expansion of the sport in Asia by bringing more teams in..

            That being said, what I was referring to is that in recent months there are those who in the U.S. reached out and trying to “con” myself or my organization, and even FIL for that matter for the support in some of these Asian countries (Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam).. Which didn’t take too much of the research to find out. If your program is not like these mentioned above, then you shouldn’t worried about it… as it is more and “after thought” for me for these petty conflict. 

            But whatever you do, stop offending Asia with “Dear Asia: We’re coming to save you, sincerely Philipines Lacrosse” crap, we don’t care for it… but it just embarrassing. Don’t open your mouth and saying you gonna save them when you can’t even make it out there… Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea they are a few lacrosse development light years away from PLA. The reason I mentioned them instead of TLA or SLA because they don’t have the same budget or the U.S. supports like we do.. so don’t use the “money defense”. 

            3. Fake Asian in this conversation has no relation to “Fake national program” in the context in which we spoke of previously. Again, it’s not about you… I don’t even know if you have flag on your footwear or not. It’s more about saying those who understood the culture, which if you did we won’t have this back-and-forth discussion about it… but as we know now, that wasn’t really your intention is it? I apologize on my earlier post because I thought you indeed misunderstood, but I clearly that’s not the case. 

            I feel like this sort of thing just bringing down the conversation. And I’ll let me work in lacrosse development do the talking, so should you too instead of getting on the defensive of what you THINK other say about your program.

            I’m done. Thanks LAS for this space, and I apologize for bringing this mess on to this blog post.

          • The chip on my shoulder was that I had wanted to work with you, but our approaches and go to market strategies are way off.

            Our decision to go to Costa Rica was based on the fact that we could go there to help with youth clinics and development first, and I was very insistent on that with Ron and Justin.  We can go any where to play lacrosse, but its the helping those who need that mean more to us.  For us to fly to Asia to play lacrosse, just to say we went to Asia to play lacrosse would do absolutely nothing to help our cause or yours.  Our focus is not just to grow The Philippines Lacrosse program, but to help introduce lacrosse to anyone and everyone that wants to learn.  Asia lacrosse expansion is not based on how many Mens National Teams compete in a tournament, it should be based on how many kids start playing.  Youth lacrosse growth has always been my stance.  The whole conversation started on the Ninja Please campaign being a phrase that could be seen as offensive to the African American culture, yet some how you figured out a way to make it offensive to Asians as well and that is what I thought was ridiculous, but nonetheless you are entitled to your opinion on what play on words offends you.  But there is no play on words when you outright said “real” Asians.  Which was not directed at me, right?  I’ll give you that, I probably took that personal since the last reference you made to real Asians was the day after you and I decided to part ways, or you cut ties, or we left you, or however you want to look at it.  Bottom line the conversation went way beyond what it was initially intended for, but aren’t you glad that everyone can now look at both sides of the story and decide for themselves.  If they call me an a-hole for playing devils advocate so be it, but at the end of the day we both know that my deep seeded hatred for the Dallas Cowboys is enough fuel to help me grow the game, while we all must come together to support our re-elected President, and ask why the Lakers could not get Phil Jackson.  (I threw that last part in to see if anyone was paying attention)


          • I think the TRUE point here is that almost everyone involved in this conversation has, at one point or another, been offended by, or taken offense to, something.

            When that happens, people get emotional, and start to see things that might not be there. I don’t think Payu ever said the Dojo was RACIST… he just pointed out how it COULD be deemed offensive. There is a big difference there.

            You guys clearly have different approaches to the game, cultural identity, politics, etc… but I just think if this were not a lacrosse conversation, it could be a lot nastier.

            This conversation, however, has been smart and passionate, and I thank you both for sharing your views.

      • I would argue that an African-American can use the “n” word as much as he damn well pleases. I, as a Caucasian, would be insensitive (and in my day, down-right stupid) to use the word, even when trying to be hip/cool/down/whatever. In fact, watching asians use the word here is making me uncomfortable.

        But I digress, an African-American can use the word, can rap using the word and many people may enjoy the music and purchase it. It doesn’t give them free license to use the word themselves, especially when NOT an African American.

        Caucasian marketers from a lacrosse equipment manufacturing company, that makes equipment for a predominantly caucasian sport, should use caution in using any marketing materials that may insult under represented minorities, especially in the United States where said under-represented minorities still see/hear/receive quite a bit of racist speech and acts. (Check out Twitter after the US elections).

        In the end, if a group says they are offended, who are we to tell them that their feelings are wrong. I agree that Warrior obviously had no intent to offend as that would be stupid. But offend they did and they fixed it by removing the offending adverts and social media posts.

  • One of the big issues facing the lacrosse community is the perception that it’s an elitist, white, prep school game. This controversy doesn’t help that perception and Warrior has a responsibility, as probably the biggest ambassador of the sport (or at least most visible), to do better. It’s not a huge deal because this wasn’t maliciously racist but it was ignorant and they did the right thing by pulling the campaign and apologizing. I’d probably go a step further and make a donation to a program like City Lax, Uganda lacrosse, Thailand lacrosse, etc., that helps grow the game specifically in the African and Asian American community.

    • I think the takeaway is not every potential cultural reference is derogatory, but rather that marketing departments are paid to research and account for the risk of cultural associations that could in any way be perceived as derogatory.

      The fact that the Dojo name could be seen as making light on a sacred cultural term surprises me, but just because I wasn’t offended by the Dojo name doesn’t mean millions of Japanese/Asian-Americans could not be.  And again, this is a game of could not would in the marketing world.  Even the potential for offense on racial grounds must be an automatic red-flag for any marketer that claims to be legitimate.

      In my opinion, the term “Ninja Please” is a clear and obvious pun on a phrase using a hateful black slur.  Whether Warrior meant harm, or that there are likely black individuals not offended by it is not the point.  

      • You nailed it Will, I just think that Warrior has grown to become a “global company” with customers in all different parts of the world. So they probably can learn a few things from other global companies, that are “hyper sensitive” of the message they send out (in any type of source). Because in the end, it reflect the organization as a whole, even if it’s a work of one person or the whole department.

  • The Birmingham Pledge:

    • I believe that every person has worth as an individual.
    • I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color.
    • I believe that every thought and every act of racial prejudice is harmful; if it is my thought 
    or act, then it is harmful to me as well as to others.
    • Therefore, from this day forward I will strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my 
    thoughts and actions.
    • I will discourage racial prejudice by others at every opportunity.
    • I will treat all people with dignity and respect; and I will strive daily to honor this pledge, 
    knowing that the world will be a better place because of my effort.

    Time for a history lesson from 50 years ago this year:

    Honor the dream. Honor the game.

  • D Wilson hit the nail on the head,

    While I could never expect any manufacturer to get it right all the time, I do expect them to use a mistake as an avenue to teach respect and tolerence, two things incredibly lacking in today’s society.  As adults involved in this close knit sport, we are also on the hook for using these opportunities to teach kids involved that this game is a gift and a tool to teach boys life lessons; two amung them are respect and tolerence.

    I am rather disturbed by some of the responses here.  It is sad that when someone is offended by something, they are being “oversensative.”   We adults in this discussion, as well as Warrior, are responsible for the messages deliverred to the kids that play and live this game.  That is, after all, the target audience of these ads. 

    Opportunities like this are gifts born out of ignorence, apathy, or lazyness.  Ignoring them and letting them slip by without comment is to perpetuate ignorence, apathy, and lazyness.

  • It will be interesting to see what happens with future Warrior marketing campaigns. 

    Will they be as willing to test limits or will there be a noticeable shift in tone?

  • “Our focus is not just to grow The Philippines Lacrosse program, but to help introduce lacrosse to anyone and everyone that wants to learn.  Asia lacrosse expansion is not based on how many Mens National Teams compete in a tournament, it should be based on how many kids start playing. ”

    *I guess we reached the limit in number of reply of conversation below, so I’ll start a new one here.

    Ugh, then why call yourself “Philippines lacrosse”? and by the way it’s about how many people you can get to play lacrosse not just kids. If you know anything about international lacrosse, it’s that in many countries lacrosse grew from TOP-DOWN with Adult first. If your rational that lacrosse expansion is not about the men’s national team competing, then why is it working for the rest of Asia? Ah, yes they have the men’s team to encourage the local to get involved as marketing/motivation tool for the locals. And why would your team decide to spend a lot of money on the matching “team gears” first, when that money would be better use on developing lacrosse?

    And let me get this straight, the country of Philippines doesn’t have young children to conduct lacrosse clinic? that’s why you have to go to Costa Rica? On wait, THEY DO or else you wouldn’t have put out the press release about “having a lacrosse clinic for children in the Philippines” unless, that wasn’t really a real plan? 

    • The point of the post was that we all come from different perspectives. I would only ask that we all respect each other’s views and practices. We’ll let the world and the market tell us who has it right in ten or twenty years!

  • I admire Warrior for pulling the marketing campaign ASAP. But we can’t ignore the fact that it happened. This is a really controversial issue and it’s a shame that the world of lacrosse might be in the midst of yet another controversy. It’s interesting to see that there is a huge uproar about the use of this slogan, which in my opinion is pretty clever, even though the original version has been around for years and nobody has really said anything about it. It was the title for ODB’s last album. It’s been used on The Chapelle Show. Countless “hip hop” entertainers have used it in movies, stand up performances, music, etc. It’s been used everywhere and nobody ever called them out.

    If the person using these words belonged to the community that it derives from or relates to then it’s ok. If the person using these words doesn’t belong to the community then it becomes a huge deal. I grew up in Chicago and the use of the phrase “nigga please” was never an issue because of the huge presence of urban culture in the city. I’m guilty of saying it when hanging out with my friends, mixed races: white, black, hispanic, asian, middle eastern, etc, and it was never an issue because that was part of our culture. It’s how we talked. But if there was a kid from the suburbs who used it, then there might be some punches thrown. It’s all about the context that it’s used in and who’s using it. The sport of lacrosse is viewed as being dominated by “privileged white kids” that’s what makes this a controversial issue. If a similar slogan was used for football or basketball there probably wouldn’t be any backlash about its use.

    I believe that it was an honest mistake by Warrior. Marketing is controversial at times and as the saying goes “no publicity is bad publicity.” In my opinion, this is going to help Warrior. Teenagers who want to be edgy and out there will go out of their way to use only Warrior gear because it’s “cool” now. They make some of the best gear on the field and they are constantly pushing the boundary on new technology. If a boycott were to be put into effect where would players go for gear? STX, Maverik, Nike, Under Armour, Gait, or Reebok (with their discontinued line)? Only time will tell what happens, but I don’t see much happening.

    I could keep writing on this subject but I’ll save it for later when more responses come in. I will end with this little note though: The use of hash tags eliminates the use of proper grammar so if the hash tag of #NINJAPLEASE were to be put into proper English would it read “Ninja Please” of “Ninja, Please” A comma can make a heck of a difference.

  • I’m glad this article came up in the discussion area, because I just thought about the topic after watching the new season of Arrested Development, in which the term gets used:

    I would argue that a cult show like Arrested Development, even with the new season being a Netflix exclusive, has more of a reach than a brief marketing campaign from Warrior lacrosse, but I haven’t seen or heard any controversy from this usage of the term. I understand that some people can be offended by the term, given it’s allusion to a much more offensive term, though I’d have to admit I was definitely less offended than some.

    Any thoughts?

  • Oversensitive hype. Anybody that got offended by that ad really needs to grow up. There was nothing even remotely racist in the ad. Maybe there is some truth to lacrosse being a sport for rich white kids, the kind that get offended by everything and call foul on anyone who has a different opinion than them.

  • Since lacrosse is perceived as being an entitled white kid sports we need to be “oversensitive” when it pertains to racial issues in order to promote inclusion and progress in a positive direction. I also don’t think it’s too big of a leap to think that “Ninja Please” has a different underlying meaning. Especially when considering “ninja” is a known slang word a different “n-word”. Additionally Warrior lacrosse has a history of questionable product names and advertising campaigns that use shock value in order to push their products.

    Who are we to determined who should be offended by what? If a person or group of people are offended by a certain phrase/word/behavior, then it is offensive and needs to be altered.

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