Nike and Adidas have tried various measures to stem the bloodshed that can occur as people anxiously line up for sneakers, and Nike even changed the timing of its sneaker releases from midnight to morning, believing people would be less aggressive. But deaths don’t just occur during launches.

There are deeper societal issues of violence and status involved. Looking back at Sports Illustrated’s famous 1990 cover story, “Your Sneakers or Your Life,” which focused on the murder of a 15-year-old boy over his Jordans and brought sneaker violence to national attention, it’s evident that the 17-year-old killer in that case didn’t do it just for the shoes. The victims of these crimes are disproportionately young, black men.

Undoubtedly, however, sneakers continue to create opportunities for some problems to play out. Early on, the Sneakerheadz clip shows news footage from a mob scene of customers stampeding to get newly released Jordans, and stories of actual deaths are far from rare.

What can be done about it? Twenty-five years after Sports Illustrated’s big story, there’s still no good answer.

This post has been updated to clarify that the estimate of the number of people killed over sneakers each year in Sneakerheadz has not been corroborated, and may well be an over-estimate.

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