Despite controversial Nike ad, CHS sports uniforms stay with Nike brand

Sameen Siddiqui

On sept. 5, nike released its “Just Do It” ad featuring National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick; Kaepernick attracted controversy for kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season, which he did to protest racial injustice. Which spurred a lot of mixed reactions from the public. College of the Ozarks, a private Christian college in Point Lookout, Mont., promised to remove all sport uniforms with the Nike logo because of the brand’s ad. A Baptist minister in Mobile, Ala. cut up his Nike gear during a Sunday sermon. The mayor of Kemer, La. attempted to buy local booster clubs in his town from purchasing Nike apparel. At this school almost every sport has their uniform sponsored by Nike.

According to Athletics Director Jim Inskeep, most sport teams at CHS have Nike uniforms—with exceptions in wrestling, swimming and diving—because Nike doesn’t necessarily have uniforms for all sports, and tends to make uniforms for to certain sports. Inskeep said the recent controversies surrounding the Nike ads hasn’t affected this school’s use of Nike gear.

“I think there’s always social issues that come up,” he said. “Obviously, Nike getting involved in the advertisement that came out earlier (in Sept.) has spurred a lot of conversations. I don’t find that to be (unusual). It is a hotly debated topic, I think in our country right now, but I don’t think it’s something we’re making a decision off of on apparel because to make a decision like that is a very expensive decision, to decide ‘Hey, we’re going to redo all uniforms because of this social issue that’s being discussed out there,’

“My experience is that social issues change all the time,” Inskeep added, “The next time, (or) two years from now there could be a debate on another clothing manufacturer as well. It is obviously a topic that is near and dear to a lot of people. A lot of good conversations are coming out, but not something we’d make a change on our uniforms.

Caleb Shaffer
The Right Mindset:
Gabe Quigley, football player and junior, holds a football in “athletic stance.” The team’s jerseys have a Nike symbol on the left hand corner.

Joey Schmidt, varsity football player and senior, said uniforms would only change if they found a better uniform with a cool design. He said the school would most likely not make a decision on switching uniforms based on the ad.

Ismail Aqeel, employee at the Pacers Athletic Center and senior, said, “I think switching uniforms makes (our reaction) too controversial… I don’t think it’s that big of a deal for a high school to have to change their uniforms, but maybe if it was a college.”

Inskeep said other surrounding high schools would have the same reasoning for not changing uniforms. He said any time a school changes its path in terms of what provider they have, they have to change everything. Inskeep said uniforms are bought on a multi-year cycle, so even if they were to change their uniforms, it would take time to switch them out. He said the National Federation of High Schools could change what student athletes are allowed to wear, the colors of home and away uniforms or the placement of logos.

For Schmidt, he said ultimately the logo doesn’t matter.

Schmidt said, “You kind of just forget about everything when you’re playing (football). You’ve definitely got to respect people’s political views, but I don’t think it should be a topic of discussion during sports.”

Aqeel said it is interesting to see how each player shows his or her perspective on the movement and which players do chose to react.

Inskeep said, “It’s a relatively new phenomenon, that sports are crossing over into the political world. Although we did have Olympians who protested back in the ‘60s  during the civil rights (movement), and I think those were, in my opinion, very strong. While (these protests weren’t) necessarily universally embraced by everyone in the country, I think that it advanced the movement to get us where we’re at today, which is a good thing. I don’t (necessarily) know always that professional athletes are the best ones to carry that torch of social awareness, but certainly there are lots of pro athletes that a lot of people look up to, that they look to as a voice,” Inskeep said.

Aqeel and Schmidt said they both agreed athletes should be able to use their platform to voice their opinions. Schmidt said when athletes are on a platform, they should be able to speak on it, as they are not only athletes but also people who can freely speak. Aqeel said sports create a bigger platform, as long as there is attention around them. He said sports can give the necessary effect for athletes to zero in on their point of view, but at the same time they should not only focus on political issues and focus on their sport.

Inskeep said athletes using their platform to talk about social issues “seems to be the norm” because of social media.

“(Athletes) have a platform to do that and put their word out and not have to have mainstream media cover it as well,” he said. “In this era, pretty much anyone is able to get their own views out there and get the clicks or get the views that they want…but everyone has a chance to express themselves, which is one of the great things about our country, so athletes and pop culture and ‘stars’ certainly have the opportunity to voice their opinions on a lot of things.”

Aqeel and Schmidt both said they support Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick for their advertisement.

Aqeel said, “At the end of the day, athletes are standing up for what they believe in and they have the platform to do so.”