The day after Nike announced that Colin Kaepernick would be the face of its 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign, there has been no backlash reported against the local schools that still wear Nike apparel.
In some areas of the country, Nike shoes and apparel have been burned or the Swoosh cut out of socks and other clothing in response to the company’s decision to hire Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback sparked a huge controversy in August 2016 when he first knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities.
His actions polarized the nation with one side arguing that he had a right to make the peaceful protest and the other, including President Donald Trump, contending that his actions were disrespectful to the national anthem, the flag and American veterans.
Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since he opted out of his 49ers contract in early 2017, tweeted Monday: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Not many college and high school sports teams wear Nike in Maryland, where Under Armour, based in Baltimore, is much more prevalent.
Coppin State is the only Division I college program whose teams wear Nike, and they will continue to do so.
“We are outfitted by Nike and will not reconsider the partnership,” Steven Kramer, the sports information director at Coppin State, said in an email response.
Like the state’s colleges, most high school teams are also outfitted in Under Armour, but the decision is often left up to the individual schools — or even the teams. At some schools, some teams may wear Nike and others may wear another company’s apparel.
The Lake Clifton boys basketball team has worn Nike for each of the 21 seasons it has played under coach Herman “Tree” Harried.
The veteran coach has a long-standing personal affiliation with the shoe company, helping run Nike summer basketball camps, doing speaking engagements and being part of the coaching staff of Nike-sponsored USA Basketball junior national teams over the years.
The boys basketball team is the only one at the school not wearing Under Armour. The Kaepernick controversy won’t change Harried’s mind about Nike.
“They’ve been good to me. They’ve been good to my young people, so why?” said Harried, who is also the school’s athletic director.
As for his take on Kaepernick-Nike relationship, he said: “My feeling is he stood for something that he believed in, and the key word is ‘he’ stood for something he believes in. Whether it was right or wrong, he stood for something that he believed in and he stuck to that and Nike also supports him in his belief. That’s the way I look at it — they support him in his belief.”
Harried said he has heard no complaints from parents or anyone else about his team wearing Nike.
At Hereford in northern Baltimore County, no one has complained about the Bulls football team wearing Nike apparel, coach Ric Evans said.
Mount Saint Joseph basketball coach Pat Clatchey said his school hasn’t received any backlash.
No one has complained about the Howard football team in Ellicott City wearing the Swoosh either.
“[Howard athletic director Michael Duffy] shared with me that Howard has not received any type of complaint and neither has the school system,” Brian W. Bassett, spokesman for the Howard County Public Schools, said Tuesday afternoon. “I am also not aware of any online or social media conversations around [Howard County schools] athletic teams wearing Nike at this time.”
Baltimore Sun reporters Edward Lee and Glenn Graham contributed to this article.