In the current, volatile sports environment of protest and debate, a private college in Missouri has no qualms about publicizing its stance on recent issues.
In September, College of the Ozarks announced a “No Pledge, No Play” policy, in which it vows not to compete in athletic events against schools whose teams chose not to stand while the anthem plays.
College of the Ozarks president Jerry Davis told The Kansas City Star, “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.”
More recently, the school instituted a new enrollment requirement for incoming freshmen dubbed the “Patriotic Education and Fitness” program. The school held a public event to announce the class on Monday.
The new requirement combines elements of ROTC programming and physical education, teaching students about modern military customs, American politics, flag protocol and procedures, as well as rifle marksmanship, map reading, land navigation and rope knotting. Students are also expected to meet physical requirements such as running a mile without stopping.
Davis told Inside Higher Ed, he believes the new course will act as a “balance against a pervasive negative view of America.”
Said Davis, “Understanding the military now is more important than ever because we have 99 percent of the population being defended by 1 percent, who are in uniform. We should be more intentional about patriotic education, and from our point of view that needs to occur from kindergarten all the way through college.”
He went on to say, “Patriotic education is not inherited. It must be taught, it must be modeled and it must be emphasized… If you’re going to be a good citizen, we can’t think of a better way to prepare you than to take a class like this.”