College of the Ozarks in southwest Missouri’s Point Lookout plans to remove all sports uniforms purchased from Nike or that contain the Nike emblem. The move is in response to the company’s new controversial ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is known for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. The ad says “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Last fall, the college revised its game contracts for participating athletes and coaches to say they will not be allowed to play sports if they disrespect the American flag and national anthem. The school also had the Men’s Division II Basketball Tournament permanently moved to another venue.
In a press release, College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis says Nike’s new ad campaign promotes “an attitude of division and disrespect toward America.”
“If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform,” Davis says.
Dr. Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions, agrees with Davis.
“Nike is free to campaign as it sees fit, as the College is free, and honor-bound by its mission and goals, to ensure that it respects our country and those who truly served and sacrificed,” Linson says.
Nike is no stranger to controversy. The company rolled out an “Equality” ad campaign after President Trump’s inauguration. The ad featured NBA star LeBron James, U.S. pro tennis player Serena Williams, Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American fencer who wears a hijab while competing, and transgender triathlete Chris Mosier.
The company’s stock has climbed 28% this year, although it reportedly fell slightly on Tuesday after the release of the Kaepernick ad.
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