Updated Friday, June 9, 2017, 12:59 p.m. EDT: Our sister publication Deadspin reports that the Baltimore Sun story on which our report was based is inaccurate. Cahree Myrick is not a national chess champion. Read the Deadspin story here.
In my almost 20-year career as a journalist, I’ve never used my platform to ask anything of my readers. But in this case, I implore you to make this go viral. I’m writing this at the very top of the article because I recognize that in the fast-paced, 140-character world of technology, many folks don’t make it past the first paragraph, so here it is: Cahree Myrick, 12, just became the first individual national youth chess champion in Baltimore history, and in a room full of dress shirts and bow ties, he did so wearing Nike shorts and an Under Armour T-shirt.
Look, I know that both companies do a lot to give back, but just a few years ago, Baltimore was on the national stage having become the latest city to have its Police Department embattled in high-stakes protests over the loss of an unarmed black life. Today, just a few years later, Cahree is the national youth chess champion, and he brought all of Baltimore with him. He not only won the national title but annihilated his opponents. According to the Baltimore Sun, which broke the story:
Cahree went a remarkable 7-0 in Nashville two weeks ago to win his division at the United States Chess Federation SuperNationals.
Cahree took Reflection Eternal Barbershop in Baltimore’s Barclay neighborhood—the place his mom takes him to play freestyle chess, because she understands the cultural significance of raising a well-rounded black boy—with him, too. And instead of conforming to social norms around playing chess and dress codes, he also took Nike and Under Armour, two of the biggest names in sportswear, with him.
While I understand the push to give big-name players big-time contracts to endorse athletic performance, kids—all kids, both inner-city and suburban—worship at the altar of sportswear brand names. While many kids may not be able to be 6-foot-8-inch King James on the court, they could be King Cahree on the chessboard.
Nike and Under Armour, I think it’s time to give back to the kid who took you with him to Tennessee, wore you proudly as he destroyed all of his opponents, and whose domination and determination and drive is Michael Jordan-level dedication.
The commercial potential could be endless. I can see it now: LeBron walks into a gym, and little Cahree stands at the other end in his Nike or Under Armour apparel (I’m not partial here, but I would like to add that Under Armour is a Maryland-based company). They stare each other down as if ready to engage in a fierce battle, and then they meet on opposite ends of a chessboard. LeBron loses because of course he does, and then asks if they can go best-two-out-of-three. Cahree agrees and then they begin setting up the chessboard for another game as the brand’s logo (again, not partial here) appears across the screen.
So let’s do it, y’all. Let’s @ all of them and make this a thing. Let’s show Nike and Under Armour that Cahree deserves to be lauded to the same heights as those we’ve been conditioned to worship. Here is a cause we can all get behind, and think about this: Nike and Under Armour, if you act fast, you can get in on the ground floor. He’s only in the seventh grade, and if you don’t want to move into the chess arena, then at least send the kid some fresh gear to wear at his next chess tournament.
It’s the least you can do.