Missouri college plans to strip athletes of Nike branding over Kaepernick controversy

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POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — The College of the Ozarks, a private Christian school in Missouri that competes in sports at the NAIA level, said it will remove all uniforms purchased from Nike that contain the brand’s logo.

Last year, the college added a stipulation to competition contracts, saying it would walk away from any game where the opposing team takes a knee, sits or turns its back on the flag or anthem.

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

The college said it will “choose its country over company,” and remove all athletic uniforms that were bought from Nike as well as any clothing containing its emblems.

“If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them,” the statement continued. “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.”

This week, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick renegotiated a multiyear agreement with Nike to make him one of the faces of the company’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

The campaign includes video ads and billboards.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016, when he protested the treatment of minorities by police by first sitting, and later kneeling, during the national anthem.

He has filed a grievance against the league, alleging that owners colluded to keep him unsigned.

On Thursday during the NFL opener, Nike unveiled its first “Just Do It” ad narrated by Kaepernick.

The two-minute spot highlights superstar athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams and others, and touches on the controversy of NFL players protesting racial inequality, police brutality and other issues by demonstrating during the national anthem.

Kaepernick narrates the full spot but first physically appears midway through. As a camera pans to reveal Kaepernick’s face, a reflection of a United States flag is visible on the facade of a building behind him.

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” Kaepernick says.

At the start of the ad, Kaepernick says: “If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, good. Stay that way, because what nonbelievers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult, it’s a compliment.”

The former 49ers quarterback is revealed as the narrator toward the end of the spot.

The commercial’s universal theme is about athletes pushing for bigger dreams. It features young athletes who compete amid various challenges, touching on issues of gender, disabilities and weight loss, among others.

Kaepernick says at the end: “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they are crazy enough.”

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