As Adidas sets forth to “push sport forward for all,” the athleticwear and footwear giant is expanding its partnership with a social justice nonprofit to make this ambition a reality.
In tandem with Athlete Ally—a strategic advocacy group to drive education, policy reform and organization of student-athletes to spur equity on college campuses and across sports, Adidas recently hosted the inaugural Athlete Leadership Summit at the University of Miami from Aug. 5-7.
This Summit came one month after the sportswear seller signed 15 female student-athletes to name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals. The event expands on a partnership that has existed since 2019, as Adidas and Athlete Ally both leverage their respective tools and expertise to champion LGBTQI+ equality in sports.
Later this year, Adidas and Athlete Ally will continue this outreach by facilitating workshops at several Adidas-partnered National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college campuses with the goal of expanding Athlete Ally’s network of college chapters—encouraging fans, athletes and students to engage in open conversations about fostering acceptance in sports.
“We are incredibly proud of the work we are able to do with our universities and Athlete Ally,” said Jeanne Schneider, director of NCAA partnerships at Adidas. “Through our partnerships, we have been able to help our universities understand how inclusion of the LGBTQI+ community will have a positive impact on the student-athlete experience. Our primary goal is to help them create spaces where all athletes are accepted and celebrated, and we remain committed to supporting them throughout their journey to build more inclusive policies and programs.”
The University of Miami is an Adidas university partner that has scored a perfect score on Athlete Ally’s Athlete Equality Index (AEI) for the last three years. The AEI is an ongoing assessment of NCAA athletic departments’ policies and practices around LGBTQI+ inclusion, rating universities on a scale out of 100.
“Our work with Athlete Ally has been instrumental in how adidas supports the LGBTQI+ community,” said Ayesha Martin, senior director of North America purpose at Adidas. “Through our partnership, we’ve underpinned purpose and seen the most inclusive Pride campaigns yet.”
The Summit brought together speakers and attendees from across the sports community, including athlete ambassadors, departments, student-athletes and advocates including professional basketball player, Layshia Clarendon, to discuss progress and future forward in driving inclusivity in sport nationwide.
“We’ve seen significant progress by student-athletes leveraging their power, where now schools are expected to have social justice initiatives as a part of athletic programs,” said Clarendon in a statement. “The best thing you can do for an athlete, trans or otherwise, is give them the space and resources to be fully themselves. Continuing to have these safe platforms, progressive policies and open conversations about inclusivity in sport with key stakeholders across the sport community is what will move the game forward even more.”
The three-day event consisted of a series of authentic panels, breakouts and intimate conversations covering topics like bias and discrimination, activism and issues facing the LGBTQI+ community in sports.
The Summit is designed to equip students and athletic departments with the resources across their teams, on their campuses and in their communities.
“Through my experiences as a college wrestler and with Athlete Ally, I’ve seen that the people who need to be educated the most on LGBTQI+ respect and inclusion are actually educated the least,” said Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally. “When coaches, athletic leaders and players themselves are educated about the lived experiences of LGBTQI+ athletes, the importance of respecting pronouns, correct terminology and how to build a sustainably inclusive team culture through both policies and practice, it makes a tremendous difference.”
Later this year, student-athletes will have the opportunity to continue to be equipped through Athlete Ally Campus Chapters. These more than 30 Campus Chapters are designated safe spaces at colleges and universities where student-athletes can come together to create and sustain inclusive LGBTQI+ athletic communities.
“I’ve heard often from LGBTQI+ athletes that having a supportive coach or teammate completely shifted their experience in sports, by showing them that allies are out there helping to make their teams a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for everyone,” said Taylor. “I’d like to see athletic departments working hand in hand with student-athletes to make their programs and policies more inclusive to bring up their Athletic Equality Index scores which comes from examining where the gaps in inclusion are, and how best to bridge these gaps through collaborative support.”
Adidas releases NMD V3
On the product front, Adidas is also coming out with a new version of its NMD sneaker silhouette.
The NMD V3 is designed to reimagine the sneaker’s own iconic heritage. With Adidas calling it “dynamic by nature,” the silhouette features a re-engineered mesh that wraps around the foot, a transparent heel clip and Boost cushioning that’s partially encapsulated in a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shell.
The sneaker also comprises an upper made with a high-performance yarn which contains at least 50 percent Parley Ocean plastic—reimagined plastic waste, intercepted on remote islands, beaches, coastal communities and shorelines—and 50 percent recycled polyester.
The silhouette is now available in men’s, women’s and youth sizing. The men’s variety has 24 colorways, while the women’s version offers 11 colorways. Youths can choose from seven color iterations.
Mapping the future to come, the launch of the NMD V3 silhouette is accompanied by a campaign aimed at championing those creating culture in every corner of their cities. Starring Brazilian pop star and actress Anitta, Argentinian DJ and producer Bizarrap and French soccer player Karim Benzema, the visuals invite everyone to “create new paths.”