With several sports teams being criticized for using Native American mascots, President Barack Obama lauded attempts made by German sportswear company Adidas to help teams eliminate the use of such mascots.
On Thursday, Adidas announced that it will assist any high school in the United States – including providing help in terms of design expertise and finance for rebranding – that wants to change its Native American mascot. Nike’s efforts were praised by the president at the seventh annual White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington. “If you walk into a school the first day and you’re already feeling that stereotypes are embedded in the culture and the cheers and all that, right away that kid is feeling set apart, and different,” he said.
Adidas said that as many as 2,000 schools use the brand of Native American mascots, as reported by Bloomberg. In a statement, the president of Adidas North America, Mark King, said. “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’ initiative was also praised by High School Athletic Director Larry Kissinger, who said that the expenditure of rebranding, which included designing new signs around campus and at stadiums, could amount to $30,000. It was also praised by Change the Mascot, a national campaign initiated by the Oneida Indian Nation.
The school board for Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School in Indiana agreed to retire the Goshen Redskins mascot earlier this year.
Obama called the move by the sportswear company a “very smart thing to do,” as reported by Yahoo News. He further said, “One of the top brands in the world is prepared to come in and use all their expertise and come up with something that … can bring people together and give a fresh start. I really want to give them a lot of credit.”
Schools using Native American themed mascots were criticized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in August 2005. While certain schools, including the North Dakota Fighting Sioux and Arkansas State Indians, made amendments, others like Florida State Seminoles and Utah Utes, have retained their mascots by seeking permission from tribes.
“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 Thursday. “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.”