Sports world reacts to Adidas’s Kanye West controversy

Adidas has origins in Nazi Germany, so...
Adidas Jan 1, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; A view of the Winter Classic logo and Adidas logo before the game between the Stars and the Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic hockey game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For weeks now, rapper and fashion designer Ye, otherwise known as Kanye West, has been spewing hateful antisemitic comments. For the time being, at least, sportswear company Adidas has not cut ties with him over their endorsement deal. However, the drumbeat for them to do so keeps getting louder.

West’s reprehensible antics seem to have emboldened others to take their hatred public, as a hate group hung a banner over a Los Angeles highway this weekend, which read “Honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews.” They also made the Nazi salute at oncoming cars.

You might think that any respectable corporation with a PR department would run for the hills to get as far away from West as possible, but Adidas has remained steadfast in the deal, even as West himself has publicly floated the idea of canceling the fashion arrangement, saying that he doesn’t believe Adidas would drop him regardless of what he says.

Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt told The Washington Post that he held “a number of conversations with senior Adidas executives and shareholders over the weekend” about the issue and found their responses to be “insufficient.”

“At this point, we are kind of flummoxed how Adidas has dropped the ball and failed to make a clear and cogent statement about their values,” Greenblatt said. “Antisemitism should be unacceptable in any circumstance,” he said. “The fact that Adidas has not made that simple point is shocking when one considers Adidas’s history as a company that once outfitted the Hitler Youth.”

After West wore a “WHITE LIVES MATTER” t-shirt a few weeks back, the German-based company said they were “reviewing” their business deal with him and his brand, but that seems to have been the last notable announcement.

As for why they might be so hesitant to cut ties with him, Morningstar analyst David Swartz told the Washington Post that West generates an estimated $2 billion a year, which is around 10% of Adidas’s revenue.

Some have also pointed to Adidas’s origins as a supplier of clothing to the Hitler Youth during the Nazi’s reign over Germany as a potential reason they’re not so quick to distance themselves from anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Regardless, the fact that Adidas has failed to distance itself from the antisemitic rapper as he continues to spew hate unabated has garnered a lot of strong reactions, especially in the sports world where Adidas is a major player.

As their stock price tanks, we’ll see if Adidas eventually decides to do the right thing, even if its already too late to get credit for doing so.

[Washington Post]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to