Adidas, the second largest sporting goods manufacturer in the world, has announced that they will be facilitating change to any High School mascot that is offensive to tribal communities. By providing financial support and design assistance, Adidas service will help ensure that the change won’t be cost forbidding.
In conjunction with this nationwide initiative, Adidas will also become a founding member of Change the Mascot, a campaign working to educate the public on the civil and human rights movement, transforming the debate surrounding the misuse of Native American sports mascots.
In response to the news, members of Change the Mascot and The National Congress of American Indians stated, “This is a tremendous display of corporate leadership by Adidas. We hope that a number of companies including FedEx, whose name adorns the Washington NFL team’s stadium, will step forward and follow Adidas’s lead. Adidas clearly understands that in 2015, businesses cannot sit on the sideline on this issue and that they must choose which side they are on. It is inspiring to see that Adidas has chosen to be on the side of inclusivity and mutual respect and has set an example for others to follow.”
Change the Mascot estimates that there are 2,000 U.S. schools currently bearing Native American mascots or nicknames. While a dozen schools have already succeeded in abandoning their negative symbols, there are 20 currently considering doing the same. Adidas Group of North America President Mark King said, “High school social identities are central to the lives of young athletes, so it’s important to create a climate that feels open to everyone who wants to compete. But the issue is much bigger. These social identities affect the whole student body and, really, entire communities. In many cities across our nation, the high school and its sports teams take center stage in the community and the mascot and team names become an everyday rallying cry.”
Adidas made the momentous announcement about their initiative at the White House Tribal Nations conference in Washington, which included 567 federally recognized tribe leaders. President Barack Obama commended Adidas while at the conference, “I tell you, for Adidas to make that commitment, it’s a very smart thing to do.” He said, “Because those schools now really don’t have an excuse. What they’re saying is one of the top sports companies in the world, one of the top brands in the world, is prepared to come and use all their expertise to come up with something that’s really going to work; and that the entire community can feel proud of and can bring people together and give a fresh start.”
After realizing that many schools wanted to be a part of the movement towards pushing these negative images from their schools, but did not have the means to do that, Adidas wanted to step in and assist. As a collaborative effort between schools and the Adidas design team, the company will help redesign any High School’s logo/mascot as long as they are volunteering willingly.
The Washington’s NFL football teams mascot the Redskin has withheld any change to their mascot, although it has been controversial for years. Even though Adidas is trying to set a great example for young influential adults at the high school level, they are feeling some scrutiny from the NFL team. Mary Lane, a spokesperson for the team says, “The hypocrisy of changing names at the high school level of play and continuing to profit off of professional like-named teams is absurd. Adidas make hundreds of millions of dollars selling uniforms to teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and the Golden State Warriors, while profiting off sales of fan apparel for the Cleveland Indians, Florida State Seminoles, Atlanta Braves and many other like-named teams.”
Although there may be slight validity to Lanes’ statement, Adidas is still be applauded for not only shedding light back onto this quickly forgotten human and civil rights movement, but also for pushing towards a change by being the frontrunners for support in design and innovation for high schools across the nation.