Last month we reported on Mark King, the president of Adidas’ North American operations saying that should Colin Kaepernick get signed by an NFL team, the brand would want to sign him.
King said of Adidas:
We’re not in the business of activism, we’re in the business of sport. But allowing our athletes to tell their story, it’s really important to us.”
“We love athletes that have a platform to make the world a better place. If they’re an activist in a way that brings attention to something that moves the world forward, even if there’s controversy at that moment, we’re really interested in those athletes because I think it represents the world today.”
What Mr. King fails to see in his comments is that while it is true that Adidas may not be in the business of activism, athletes they have associated themselves with may be outspoken on a particular issue. That outspokenness and/or activism is a part of their story and they are using their platform, in this instance sports, to bring attention to their cause. The attention brought to their issue can start conversations that start that process to make the world a better place.
It would seem that Colin Kaepernick is precisely the type of athlete Adidas would readily look to sign. As it appears that Kaepernick checks off every box of the of the criteria laid out by Mr. king himself, adding the stipulation that Adidas would only want to sign him after an NFL does seems unnecessary.
It calls into question the sincerity of Mr. King’s statement altogether for wanting to sign Kaepernick. I see it as Mr. King and Adidas writing a check they know it is very likely they will never have to make good on, as the very real possibility exist that Kaepernick will never be on the field for an NFL snap.
Is Adidas concerned about potential backlash that signing Kaepernick may bring? There is undoubtedly a demographic that would certainly take umbrage with Adidas bringing Kaepernick into the fold. The pushback the company received when they released gay pride sneakers in no way stopped them from releasing them, even firing back directly online at those who were not in favor of the shoes. I bring up that example not to make the erroneous comparison of police brutality against black people to the rantings of people who have issues with homosexuality but to illustrate how Adidas has handled when their products intersects with hot-button topics. If Adidas has some trepidation about alienating current and potential customers, then should there not be an equal consideration for doing the same for those current and potential clientele that would either have their affinity for the brand bolstered or attract them to Adidas?
So I say to Mark King and Adidas, if you are truly interested in signing Colin Kaepernick then just do so without the asinine, carrot dangling stipulations.