“No pledge, No Play,” declares the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school.
The school says not only does it intend to stand in support of the national anthem, including all athletes and coaches, but so will its opponent. If not, the Ozarks’ Bobcats won’t play.
The school is calling it their “No pledge, No Play,” policy. School president Jerry C. Davis said he has no problem taking his ball and going home.
“We want to make it clear that we are not going to participate in a game where we think disrespect for the national anthem or the flag is being displayed,” Davis told The Kansas City Star. “I don’t think it’s a partisan issue. It’s an American issue, how we feel about our country.”
The pledge is a response to protests that started last year when during the 2016 NFL season, now team-less, free-agent Colin Kaepernick started taking to his knee during the national anthem. At the time, Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He said his protest was against police brutality and racial injustice, and that he refused to honor a flag that reflected the broken U.S. government.
During the current season, more NFL began to kneel or otherwise protest, prompting President of the United States Donald J. Trump to denounce the practice.
President Trump’s condemnation of the protests sparked further displays, including a college game that saw five University of New Mexico players kneel during the pregame tribute in a game against the United States Air Force.
Though the University of New Mexico’s coach was caught off-guard, Davis made it preemptively clear as to how his athletes and coaches should conduct themselves.
“We wanted to be clear about our expectations. We’re trying to avoid trouble, not look for it,” Davis said.
The College of the Ozarks has also revised its contracts with competitors for all sports to reflect the new pledge. He said if a team doesn’t want to sign the agreement, he’d rather “forfeit a game than forfeit our honor.”
“We think what we’re doing is right,” Davis said. “We’re living in a culture that doesn’t know right from wrong anymore, and I don’t need to go out and take a poll either.”
So far, according to Davis, there have been no anthem-protest issues with school teams, a fact he hopes holds true.
“I’m not saying everything is perfect,” Davis said, “but the United States is the greatest country and much better than what’s in second place.
The College of Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college, with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. They don’t have a football team, according to the Star, which further reports:
“The mission statement on the school’s website lists as a ‘patriotic goal’: ‘To encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country and willingness to defend it.’
“According to the school’s website, no tuition is charged at College of the Ozarks. It was named the No. 1 best value and innovative school in the Midwest in the U.S. News and World Report 2018 rankings.”
In March, the College of Ozarks hosts the NAIA Division II men’s national basketball championship.
See how the college offers free tuition in the video below.
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