Small Missouri college ends Nike affiliation over Colin Kaepernick ads

The College of the Ozarks wants you to know it does not like Nike’s ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick.

The private Christian school located south of Branson, Missouri, said Wednesday that it would be dropping its affiliation with Nike over the Kaepernick “Just Do It” ad campaign. It’s not the first time the school has taken a stand with something Kaepernick-related.

Nike ‘promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America’

The school’s president Jerry Davis said Nike’s ads were promoting disrespect towards the United States.

“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America,” Davis said in a statement. “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.”

The 1,500-person school is an NAIA-member school and its boycott will have much more symbolic impact however large that actually is  than financial impact to Nike’s bottom line. The College of the Ozarks fields teams in six different sports in addition to cheerleading. The school does not field a football team.

“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,” said Marci Linson, the school’s director of admissions and vice president of patriotic activities.

School has a policy requiring players to stand for anthem

College of the Ozarks announced last fall that all of its coaches and players would be required to stand for the national anthem before events. It even said that it would refuse to participate in an event if an opposing team member protested during the anthem. As you can surmise, the school’s rule came in response to the protesting discussions that Kaepernick’s anthem actions have sparked.

The rule even meant the school lost the NAIA Division II postseason basketball tournament. College of the Ozarks had asked the NAIA to force everyone to stand for the anthem before tournament games played on campus and the NAIA wasn’t willing to acquiesce to that demand.

“The NAIA also understands that the freedom of speech — and the right to peaceful protest — are indisputable rights in the United States,” a statement from the sanctioning body said in October of 2017. “Because the NAIA is made up of 250 diverse schools, the association believes it is in the best interest of the institutions to let them individually decide what actions are acceptable for their coaches and student-athletes.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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