Sammy Nickalls
November 07, 2015 11:56 am

Sadly, there are images that are being used by schools as their mascot, despite the fact that said images are deeply racist depictions of Native Americans. Of course, this offensive practice isn’t just limited to schools — the Washington Redskins is a notoriously infamous example of a team that is in desperate need of an update. However, when it comes to high schools, many times, the problem lies within funding. Many districts simply don’t have the resources they need to rebrand and update their logo. After all, school logos are on everything — from sports uniforms to gymnasium floors.

But Adidas is out to change that. Today, the sports company announced that they would be leading a “nationwide initiative” to provide design and financial resources to any American high school that wants to change its logo “from potentially harmful Native American imagery or symbolism.”

The initiative was announced at the White House Tribal Nations Conference on Thursday in Washington; company representatives attended the conference, along with leaders from 567 federally recognized tribes. The company also announced that it would be the founding member of a new coalition — one that addresses Native American mascots and images in sports.

“Sports have the power to change lives,” said Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member in attendance at the conference, according to the statement. “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.”

This is an issue that is pervasive throughout the country, with over 2,000 schools out of the 27,000 in the nation using mascots that are deemed offensive. But for those high schools that wish to change their mascot, but don’t have the resources, Adidas is hoping that their initiative will be revolutionary.

“They have really come up with a smart, creative approach, which is to say, alright, if we can’t get states to pass laws to prohibit these mascots, then how can we incentivize schools to think differently?” Obama said at the conference. “I don’t know if Adidas made the same offer to a certain NFL team here in Washington, but they might want to think about that as well.”

As Bloomberg notes, when Goshen High School in Indiana voted to retire its mascot — the Redskins — its athletic director Larry Kissinger estimated that the cost of rebranding would be approximately $30,000 — and that’s a comparatively modest fee, considering they hadn’t been putting their mascot on unis for years.

“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, in the statement. “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.”

“Extraordinary things happen because of sports,” said Liedtke in the statement. “. . .Today, we can add another story on how sports bring people together and provide common ground to ignite change.”

High schools that are interested in making the change can e-mail the company at mascotchange@adidas.com.

Related:

Why this high school apologized for their Pocahontas-themed homecoming float

How one grad took his school to court for banning his eagle feather- and won

(Image via Twitter.)

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