A small Missouri college has ended its relationship with Nike after the athletic gear manufacturer teamed up with disgraced ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for its new ad campaign.
In case you missed the news, Nike named Kaepernick the focus of its new “Just Do It” ad campaign. However, the decision has been met with intense controversy, with threats of boycotts and even some individuals burning their Nike gear. That’s because Kaepernick was the first NFL player to “take a knee” during the national anthem, and the now-unemployed quarterback has become the face of the movement, for better or for worse.
To College of the Ozarks president Jerry Davis, mark that down in the “for worse” category.
“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting 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.”
Located just down the road from Branson, the 1,500-student, private Evangelical Christian college offers seven sports – none of them football. The NAIA school will no longer put Nike gear on any of its student-athletes, nor will any Nike equipment be used on any of its fields.
This is not the first time the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school has gotten mixed up in the national anthem controversy. As Ozarks Sports Zone reports, in 2017 the school clarified that all of its athletes were required to stand for the national anthem before games. The school even went so far as to say that it would forfeit any competition if a player from the opposing team refused to stand for the anthem.
“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.”
That stance cost them a gig as host to any future NAIA Division II college basketball tournament games. In a statement, the governing body said that the college is free to set its own rules, but that the association doesn’t have to condone them.
Of course, the impact to Nike’s bottom line from the college’s boycott is likely to be negligible at best. But symbolically, the boycott has achieved its goal, in that it’s drawn attention to the fact that at least some in the college sports community are unhappy with Nike’s ad campaign.