Nike, the company that loves to posture and finger-wag over social justice issues in its advertising, is in some hot water over its maternity policy regarding the female athletes it sponsors:
— beverly burke (@samskaraburke) May 13, 2019
Alysia Montaño is the runner featured in that tweet, and she wrote a scathing op-ed for The New York Times last week, which was published on Mother’s Day.
Nike, it would appear, isn’t as forward-thinking as the company portrays itself to be when it comes to pregnant athletes:
For the vast majority of athletes, their sport is a way to earn a decent living by doing what they love and excel at. They don’t get rich.
Sports take a heavy toll on the human body, and sponsors accommodate this with time off for injuries. But rarely do they offer enough time off to have a child.
The four Nike executives who negotiate contracts for track and field athletes are all men.
“Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete,” said Phoebe Wright, who was a runner sponsored by Nike from 2010 through 2016. “There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”
More than a dozen track athletes, agents and others familiar with the business describe a multi-billion-dollar industry that praises women for having families in public — but doesn’t guarantee them a salary during pregnancy and early maternity.
That’s right: no paid maternity leave for the athletes it sponsors.
Nike is the company that went all “Yay girl power!” over the hijab, which has become a social justice warrior fetish item in the United States and other free countries. In Muslim countries, it’s still a symbol of oppression. Women in Iran are prosecuted for removing them, and a female attorney who fought for them was recently sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.
That’s what Nike celebrates for women. Not the faces of its company who are having babies.
Montaño’s op-ed relays a story about Kara Goucher, one of the most successful professional female runners of the last decade:
The toughest moment was when Ms. Goucher learned that Nike would stop paying her until she started racing again. But she was already pregnant. So, she scheduled a half-marathon three months after she had her son, Colt. Then her son got dangerously ill. Ms. Goucher had to choose again: be with her son or prepare for the race that she hoped would restart her pay.
She kept training. “I felt like I had to leave him in the hospital, just to get out there and run, instead of being with him like a normal mom would,” Ms. Goucher said, crying at the memory. “I’ll never forgive myself for that.”
This was Nike’s response to the Times piece:
Nike responds to New York Times article about track stars who say their contracts were reduced with the company when they were pregnant. pic.twitter.com/kp64D51VWq
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 13, 2019
That may not be entirely true, however. This is near the end of the op-ed:
According to a 2019 Nike track and field contract shared with The Times, Nike can still reduce an athlete’s pay “for any reason” if the athlete doesn’t meet a specific performance threshold, for example a top five world ranking. There are no exceptions for childbirth, pregnancy or maternity.
Progressive champions are often hypocrites, so this isn’t too surprising. As we learned from the #MeToo movement, the biggest cheerleaders for a cause can often be the worst enemies of said cause.
Nike probably doesn’t have any real concern for women, Colin Kaepernick, or any other SJW issues they get behind. It’s just good business for them.
Pregnant women aren’t. Perhaps they’d be better looked after if they wore hijabs while kneeling for the National Anthem.