Female athletes – breaking new ground
Nike, with its myopic sponsorship of female athletes, must not have been paying attention to the many female athletes who have been happily competitive at their respective sports while pregnant, giving birth to children, and raising a family. For instance, Serena Williams won the Australian Open when eight weeks pregnant, and swimmer, Dana Vollmer, won three medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after having her son in 2015. Soccer player, Christie Pearce Rampone represented the United States 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympic Games after having a daughter in 2005, and again at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games following the birth of another daughter in 2010. As team captain, she played all 570 minutes of the six matches. After winning the gold medal in beach volleyball at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Kerri Walsh Jennings had two children in 2009 and 2010, won the gold again while pregnant and competing at the 2012 Olympics, then topped things off with a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. Nia Ali won the 100-meter hurdle at the World Indoor Championships in 2014, had a child in 2015 and competed and won again in 2016. Ali also won the silver medal in the event at the Olympics that year. With winning female athletes like these, how could Nike be so shortsighted?
Luckily for Felix, female athletic wear retailer, Athleta, knows better. Athleta was looking for a sponsorship opportunity. After reading the opinion piece, and impressed by her “passion, purpose, and courage,” Athleta chief marketing officer, Sheila Shekar Pollak, approached Felix and offered a sponsorship. To Pollack, and Athleta, athletes are not “one-dimensional.”