New Nike Deal, Same Divisons on Pledge and Anthem

Alec Faraday , Staff Writer

Nike unveiled a new deal with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on September 3, leading to, predictably, a flurry of volatile responses. Athletes are burning their Nike gear. A school in Missouri has decided to break their agreement with the company. What you might not have known is that the furor has extended itself deep into the core of even the staff at our own school. 

As is customary, the pledge of allegiance is played every day on The Towson Show. Some students stand, and some students don’t. In some classes, however, teachers have made it clear that they consider it disrespectful if students don’t stand.  

I interviewed Alex Blanpied, grade 12, on the matter, asking about his personal experience on teacher policy on the pledge. 

“In my experience teachers are generally very good about letting students decide for themselves whether or not they want to stand for the pledge,” Blanpied started. “But there are a couple teachers…they’ll make it clear they find it disrespectful not to stand for the pledge… they don’t give you worse grades if you don’t stand for the pledge, [but] often after the pledge is over, they’ll make a comment about it or they’ll point out to you that you didn’t stand for the pledge.” 

I asked Blanpied if he felt as if certain teachers didn’t respect his views. 

“Yeah, or they feel like it’s their position to make their opinion my opinion,” he responded. 

Sam Beatty, grade 12, sees his peers as more of an issue. “When I don’t stand, I often have people who are supporters of the pledge… shame me and point me as an odd one out of the class because I don’t support what they believe or because I don’t feel that I should stand for something I don’t agree with.” Beatty’s teacher, for the record, could not recall such a moment when asked, citing not teaching him long enough to see such an example. 

At a level more personal to me, I can testify that my sister had a teacher who said that if a student didn’t stand for the pledge, they’d have to “have a conversation.” However, she also mentioned that the teacher was far more lenient on the policy than they were made out to be. 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is that if teachers required students to stand or recite the pledge, they would be violating county policy.  BCPS Rule 6307 states that “any student or staff member who wishes to be excused from the flag salute shall be excused.”  

Whether or not Kaepernick’s kneeling makes any tangible policy difference remains to be seen, but the effect can be felt 3,000 miles away from where the controversy started two years ago in San Francisco and that’s worth considering.