How Ninja’s new deal with Adidas shows gamers are just like your favorite athlete


Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

We’re watching Ninja change people’s perceptions in real time.

Ninja is changing how the average person thinks about gamers in a way that hasn’t been done before, and didn’t seem possible for a long time.

Tuesday, he announced a deal with Adidas. It’s not his first big endorsement — he’s partnered with Samsung and Red Bull previously, both pretty big names. He also recently left Twitch to stream on Mixer in a huge snag for Microsoft.

No shortcuts. Only long days. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t catch your dreams. Choose your path. Put the TIME IN.I’m humbled, and excited, to officially announce my partnership with @adidasoriginals.

— Ninja (@Ninja) August 27, 2019

But this sponsorship is different. Adidas primarily sponsors superstar athletes who you could only dream of becoming, and other people who have gained unattainable fame. Ninja’s sponsorship is validation from one of sports’ biggest tastemakers that being perhaps the most recognizable gamer on the planet (primarily thanks to Fortnite) is as important as being a world-class athlete. Ninja has reached that level of fame.

The details of the partnership weren’t revealed, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the brand came out with his own sneaker. You have to be a different kind of talented and famous to be able to pull something like that off, especially as a gamer.

I can’t imagine going to Mr. and Mrs. Lyles at a young age and being all, “Hey, I want to grow up and be a professional gamer and have a sneaker deal and be sponsored by Chipotle!” without them coming back with, “LOL — boy, if you don’t get outside and cut the grass.” But that’s a realistic dream now, which is great. (Though I don’t think I’d trade my current occupation for it — I like writing silly things and starting chicken sandwich wars.)

If you were to ask the average person over the age of 30-ish what they thought a gamer looks like, they’d probably have a specific image in mind. A gamer, stereotypically, would be someone who is nerdy, wears glasses, smell like Hot Pockets, and plays in their mother’s basement. That person would also be a man, because a lot of people still think that women can’t play video games, or have no interest in doing so.

Then there’s the crowd of people who think video games are a waste of time altogether and — well, they’re all just wrong.

Some folks don’t understand how anyone could watch somebody else play video games, but, much like their attitude towards gaming in general, that is because they have never had an open mind to it. In the simplest of terms: sometimes I’d rather watch LeBron James play basketball than play myself because he’s a lot better at it than I am or ever could be, and most sports fans probably feel the same.

I watch many different streamers, though they all mostly play Fortnite. They all bring something different to the table, and no viewing experience is the same.

There’s somebody like Myth, who plays with a basketball shooting sleeve on and will do obscure things during his stream, like dance, or even limbo while waiting for the game lobby to load:

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A post shared by Myth (@tsm_myth) on Aug 15, 2019 at 10:33am PDT

If you’re looking for pure excitement, there’s One Shot GURL. If you’re looking for impeccable manners, watch Nick Eh 30. If you want a skilled player with very good dogs, peep Asivrs. If you want to be part of a great community, tune into SanchoWest. And if you just want to watch one of the best players on the planet, catch Tfue or the World Cup champion Bugha, who had one of the best performances Arthur Ashe Stadium will ever see in any sport.

There is no shortage of gaming streamers, much like NBA bloggers on the internet. It’s pretty cool to see a group of people achieve a new status that not many envisioned. You can be a full-time gamer, make a living, and people won’t falsely assume you’re some kind of scrub. That’s dope.

And don’t get it twisted — you don’t have to like Ninja to think it’s pretty cool that even more people might able to attain what he has.

Also, maybe some people just want to play video games and be left alone. That’s cool too. Because playing video games because you want to is cool.

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