ASU and Adidas partnership to examine how to change the world through sport

The Global Sport Alliance will explore a variety of athletic issues

One of the largest universities in the country by population and one of the most influential sports apparel companies in the world are teaming up with the goal of having a positive impact on society through sport.

The Adidas and Arizona State University Global Sport Alliance will explore a number of pressing sports topics, bringing together students, faculty, employees, researchers, engineers, intellectual leaders and various partners to exchange ideas, conduct research, and ultimately come up with solutions and distribute them to the general public.

“Few things in life bind people together more than passion for and participation in sport,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a press release. “Adidas and Arizona State University have come together because we have a common commitment to having a real-time, positive impact on the world and we see the power of sport to influence human success. We both seek to empower people, improve health and well-being, and inspire action through teaching, learning and community engagement. ASU, energetically focused on innovation and creative problem-solving, is a ready-made action lab to help extend Adidas’ ideas and creative energy.”

Topics the partnership plans to delve into include athlete potential, consumer behavior and insight, innovations, product materials, educational opportunities and the role diversity and race plays in different aspects of athletics.

Another key aspect of the partnership's upcoming work will be sustainability, including where the sport's products are made and sold and ways to make the sport's products survive longer, which includes finding new recycling solutions.

In addition, health in sports, including nutrition, will be examined.

Adidas North America President Mark King said the company and ASU have similar perspectives on the world.

“Adidas and ASU see the world as a place to be disrupted,” King said in a press release. “When you combine the world-class resources of ASU with the global power of Adidas, extraordinary things can happen. We’re coming together to test the boundaries of the universe and make quantum leaps in what our future looks like. We’re looking at the world through the lens of sport and exploring things like diversity, sustainability and human potential. Sport is so much bigger than the game. We believe through sport, we have the power to change lives." 

Incoming Global Sport Initiative CEO and Distinguished Professor of Sport Kenneth Shropshire said the partnership can only advance ASU's reputation forward.

"It's big," Shropshire said. "Nobody else is doing it. As much as ASU is on the rise and has the major innovation label, this should add to all the great things that are going on there already."

As far as Adidas goes, Shropshire said major apparel companies do not normally get involved in this type of initiative. But Shropshire said Adidas, who sponsors Sun Devil Athletics apparel, brings added credibility.

With the initial announcement portion taken care of, Shropshire said the next step is to inform the public.

For several months, Shropshire said he has been working as a consultant with President Crow to get the pieces in place, but he said the action will heat up in the fall.

"In the fall, a number of internal launch events to make people know what were up to," Shropshire said. "There will be a web presence that will come up around that time. There will be announcements to apply for grants on the topics we're talking about."

Also, Shropshire said he plans to promote the initiative at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York around youth participation in sports and get involved in film festivals.

Shropshire has not got to ASU yet, but he said the alliance will look at the future of sport during the first year.

"Get people across the university a chance to kind of express where they think the sport will be, where it should be," Shropshire said. "If you think of all the major disciplines and you let people answer that question from where they are, think of your major.

"Annually, we will come up with different themes to focus the work a little bit more, things like race in sport, technology, gender, sustainability," Shropshire said.

Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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