College of the Ozarks, a private Christian College in Point Lookout, Missouri, has announced that its athletic teams will no longer wear Nike products in response to the company's decision to make Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign.
"In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America," said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis. "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."
Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions at the college, added, "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."
The ad, which is just over two minutes and narrated by Kaepernick, has ignited debate about sacrifice and patriotism from the public, Nike customers and President Donald Trump.
"I don't like what Nike did. I don't think it's appropriate what they did," Trump said in an interview with Fox News before a rally in Montana Thursday. "I honor the flag. I honor our national anthem and most of the people in this country feel the same way."
The president continued pontificating Nike's decision Friday morning when he tweeted: "What was Nike thing?"
Some responses to the tweet noted that Nike was speaking out against racism, an issue Trump was willing to discuss with Kaepernick earlier this year, according to the Rev. Darrell Scott, pastor of New Spirit Revival Center Church, who also serves as CEO of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump.
Scott said Trump was ready to have reconciliatory talks on race with musicians and athletes, including the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked the controversial "take a knee" movement by refusing to stand for the national anthem.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the performance of the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities. He was also seen at training camp practices wearing socks depicting cops as pigs and even donated $25,000 to "Assata's Daughters," a group named after FBI fugitive and convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur," according to Town Hall.
Last summer, in criticizing the protest, Trump urged team owners to fire players who participated in the protest. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!'" Trump said.
Kaepernick alleges in a lawsuit that the NFL colluded against him to keep him from playing. His friend, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, who has knelt during the national anthem at games for the past two seasons, also filed a grievance against the NFL alleging the league had blackballed him because of his actions, according to The New York Times.
In 2016, the Denver Broncos offered Kaepernick a contract but he turned it down.
"Colin had his chance here," Broncos General Manager John Elway told Business Insider. "We offered him a contract. He didn't take it."
Earlier this year, Kaepernick was honored with Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award. In accepting the award, Kaepernick explained that the inspiration behind the resistance to racial injustice is love.
"It was James Baldwin who said 'to be black in America and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.' My question is, why aren't all people? How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates freedom and justice for all yet is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in a rage when you know you are always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice?" he asked.
The New York Post reported Friday that Nike shares are now climbing after suffering a $3.3 billion loss in market cap when the company first announced the ad on Tuesday.
Hours after the ad was first aired on NBC during the network's season-opening Thursday Night Football telecast, Nike shares were trading up 73 cents at 11:26 a.m., to $81.13 the Post reported. Those numbers signaled that Nike shares had regained more than half the $2.60 per shares decline.