Adidas announced it will lead a nationwide voluntary initiative for high schools who want to change mascot names and identities. Adidas will offer its design resources to any high school in America that wants to change their logo or mascot from potentially harmful Native American imagery or symbolism. Additionally, the company will provide financial assistance to schools who want to change their identity to ensure the transition is not cost prohibitive.
Adidas announced the voluntary initiative as executives from the company attend the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC.
"Sports have the power to change lives," said Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member in attendance at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. "Sports give young people limitless potential. Young athletes have hope, they have desire and they have a will to win. Importantly, sports must be inclusive. Today we are harnessing the influence of sports in our culture to lead change for our communities. Adidas is proud to provide a pathway for high schools and communities who want to create new identities."
In addition, Adidas will be a founding member of a coalition to look at the issue of Native imagery and mascots in sports and work to find ongoing solutions.
"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," said Mark King, president of Adidas Group North America. "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."
Of the more than 27,000 high schools across the United States, approximately 2,000 of them use names that cause concern for many tribal communities. The new program will be voluntary for high schools interested in changing their identities.
"Extraordinary things happen because of sports," said Liedtke. "There are countless stories – Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics, Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, Billie Jean King igniting a women's movement. Today, we can add another story on how sports bring people together and provide common ground to ignite change."
As part of its vision to change lives through sports, Adidas works with creators around the world to engage in important community and global issues.
High schools interested in changing their mascot identity can email their request to mascotchange@Adidas.com.