Jim Keady is the founder and captain of Team Sweat. Jim was born and raised at the Jersey Shore. He attended St. Rose Grammar School and then Christian Brothers Academy where he was a two-sport varsity athlete. For college, Jim attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he earned a degree in Psychology. At St. Joe’s he was a scholar-athlete on the Division One Men’s Soccer team. He also served as president of his fraternity and did a two year internship in the university’s Campus Ministry Department.
Following graduation, Jim took seven months to backpack around the world with two childhood friends. He visited Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, India, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. During his time in Nepal and the Czech Republic he did volunteer work with the Missionaries of Charity – Mother Teresa’s Sisters.
Upon his return to the Jersey Shore, Jim began a teaching and coaching career. For his “night job” he signed a contract to play with the NJ Imperials, one of the top minor league soccer clubs in the nation.
While playing with the Imperials, one of Jim’s teammates offered him a job to coach at St. John’s University (NY) - the NCAA Division One National Champions. This was the coaching opportunity of a lifetime and Jim joined the Redstorm staff in the summer of 1997. Along with his coaching, Jim also enrolled in the graduate school to pursue a masters degree in Theology. It was at St. John’s where Jim’s life would take a major turn.
As part of a class assignment, Jim began to research Nike’s labor practices in light of Catholic Social Teaching and subsequently found that Nike’s factories were de facto sweatshops with long hours, low wages, and an overall exploitation of mostly poor women in developing countries.
At the same time Jim was doing his research, St John’s University Athletic Department began to negotiate a $3.5 million dollar endorsement deal with Nike that would require all athletes and coaches to wear and endorse the products. Jim questioned the endorsement deal privately at first, and then publicly. Eventually he was given an ultimatum by his head coach – “Wear Nike and drop this issue…or resign.” Deciding that as a matter of conscience, he could not turn a blind eye to the way Nike made its profits, Jim said he would not publicly endorse Nike.
In May 1998, Jim was forced to resign.
Jim was committed to finding out the truth about Nike’s factory workers. He devised an experiment where he went to Indonesia to live with Nike factory workers on the wages that workers are paid - $1.25 / day. For one month, he lived on these wages and interviewed countless workers who told stories of forced overtime, starvation wages, sexual harassment, physical violence, and intimidation. He has travelled to Indonesia multiple times over the past 8 years and he is currently producing a feature-length film about the lives of Nike factory workers and his experiences with them – SWEAT (www.sweatthefilm.org).