adidas micoach Adidas Has Plan To Help High Schools Drop Native American Mascots

Adidas is offering to help high schools nationwide drop Native American mascots.

The athletic shoe and apparel maker said Thursday it will provide free design resources to schools looking to shelve Native American mascots, nicknames, imagery or symbolism. The German company also pledged to provide financial support to ensure the cost of changing is not prohibitive.

Adidas announced the initiative in conjunction with the White House Tribal Nations Conference on Thursday in Washington. Adidas executives were among those attending the conference, which includes leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes.

The company, which has its North American headquarters in Portland, Ore., also said it will be a founding member of a coalition that addresses Native American mascots in sports.

WEST HARTFORD The town’s two high schools are set to start the new year with fresh logos, created after the board of education recommended that use of all Native American mascots and imagery be discontinued. It seeks to be a collaborative effort with schools.

Adidas emphasized that the initiative only involves high schools,
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and that the company is not mandating that schools change mascots and nicknames. The program does not involve its other agreements or sponsorships with professional or college teams, or with individual athletes.

The company said it embarked on the initiative because it became clear through conversations with the White House that schools “wanting to make a change had very little avenues to do so.”

“We are committed to continuing a dialogue to look at the issue of native images in sports and work to find solutions. Ultimately, it’s the teams, athletes, coaches and fans who decide what changes they want to make. And if they want to make a change and we can help, then we want to help,” the company said.

The use of such mascots has drawn increased attention and controversy in recent years. The NFL’s Washington Redskins have resisted appeals by Native American and civil rights groups to change their name and mascot.

Some states have taken action at the high school level. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that prohibits schools from using the term Redskins.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recently ordered the creation of a commission to study the use of Native American mascots and come up with a list of recommendations for possible legislation.

In Oregon,
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the state board of education in 2012 ordered high schools to ban such mascots or risk losing public funding. The schools have until 2017 to comply.