Over the years, adidas and Arizona State University (ASU) have emerged as leaders in the sustainability movement as a result of groundbreaking innovations, education and outreach programs and thought-provoking campaigns designed to solve global sustainability problems. Now, the two forward-thinking entities are teaming up to launch the Global Sport Alliance, a strategic partnership that aims to shape the future of sport and highlight its positive impact on society. Bringing together education, athletics, research and innovation, the Alliance will explore topics such as diversity, race, sustainability and human potential through the lens of sport.
“Few things in life bind people together more than passion for and participation in sport,” said Michael Crow, President of ASU. “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.”
Sustainability is one of the main themes the Alliance will explore. The partnership will examine the entire lifecycle of sport — where it’s made, played and sold — zeroing in on topics such as sustainability education, traceability in product supply chain, the creation of sustainable materials and new recycling solutions. adidas’s sustainability strategy, “Sport Needs a Space,” is built on this same holistic framework.
adidas is already making tracks in the area of alternative materials. The sportswear company has been creating performance apparel and footwear using marine plastics since 2015 when it struck up a partnership with environmental NGO Parley for the Oceans. adidas has also worked with German biotech company AMSilk to design a performance shoe made using biodegradable Biosteel® fiber — a synthetic version of spider silk —and employed Silicon Valley based tech company Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology to produce its Futurecraft 4D shoes.
ASU, a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 (CE100) program, also lends its research expertise to the Alliance. The university played a key role in the development of an interdisciplinary equation to calculate the value of natural capital and has been working with the Department of Energy on a project cultivating microalgae for biofuel.
In the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, sport has been used as a way to empower asylum seekers and help them integrate into their new surroundings, establish new relationships and cope with emotional trauma. Recognizing sport’s ability to change lives, 36 Germen companies, including adidas launched the Wir Zusammen (Us Together) program, a business-focused integration initiative driving long-term projects to integrate refugees into the business community and German society more broadly. In addition to language tuition, companies offer mentors, workshops on intercultural communication, job application training and sports courses.
The Alliance will also investigate health in sports, looking at athletes holistically and exploring how to maximize human potential. One topic adidas and ASU will consider exploring is tailored programs that encompass nutrition, mindset, movement, recovery and product.
“adidas and ASU see the world as a place to be disrupted,” said Mark King, President of adidas North America. “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. adidas and ASU have a shared passion for innovation and creativity, for leading change and finding what’s next. With the Global Sport Alliance, we’re on a quest to explore the unknown. We want the whole world to benefit from what we discover.”
A key component of the Global Sport Alliance is the Global Sport Institute (GSI), designed to connect people to the power of sport by translating and amplifying complex sports research to broad, global audiences. GSI convene public events, engage leading sports figures and publish research findings through reports, infographics, podcasts and social media. Kenneth L. Shropshire, an international expert at the intersection of sports, business, law and society, will lead GSI as CEO and join ASU as the Distinguished Professor in Global Sports, a position created by adidas.
“The Global Sport Institute will sport collaborative inquiry and research that examines critical issues impact sport and all those connected with sport,” said Shropshire. “GSI’s purpose will be to transform the resulting findings into practical knowledge that is widely shared, educating and influencing audiences.”