I pledge allegiance to Swoosh of the United States of Nike, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Phil Knight, indivisible, with liberty and justice for Michael Jordan, FuelBands, and cute running shorts.
Do my kids learn this in school ? NO.
Then why do we have a situation where a Mr. Nick Symmonds has been banned from the world championships for not agreeing to the “policy” on wearing “official gear”…..Nike gear….. in all USA Track and Field events, training sessions, and even in breakfast in the hotel.
Let’s make this very clear folks. Our national governing body for our sport is called ” United States of America Track and Field”. The goal of is this organization is to get medals at the Olympics and World Stage. That’s it. Then why is a fashion faux pas preventing our 800 meter National champion from representing our country @ the world championships?
I do understand that our governing body is dependent on sponsorship to keep the lights on, cover expenses, and hopefully provide unique and amazing opportunities to enable the most talented runner’s in America to represent us on the world stage. And I agree that sponsors should be entitled to coverage to reflect their efforts. But individual athletes also have their own sponsors, who deserve credit and exposure for their individual help. And these sponsors are entitled to their time in the lime light as well for the funding they provide to the individual. And by the way USATF, Nick fully complied with your requirements to wear official team uniform and Nike gear at meets, press conferences, pictures, etc. But why, and most importantly how, can USATF place a blanket ban on all non-Nike sportswear at all events related to racing and training?
Is this the goal of USATF to solely promote Nike? I don’t think so, because here is USATF’s mission statement – taken directly from their website:
The mission of USATF is to provide vision and leadership to the sport of track and field in the United States, and to promote the pursuit of excellence from youth to masters, from grassroots to the Olympic Games.
Seems like USATF has placed their emphasis on the athletes, not their sponsors. Then how could a situation like this happen?
Is it some sweet heart deal Nike struck with the old boys club @ USATF? We should expect these type of demands from China, the Soviet Republic, or other dictator based nation, but not the US of A, where people have free will and individual rights. A NGB wouldn’t allow a corporate entity to flex muscle over on them……would they?
OK, I know I’m being too altruistic you say……sports has become big biz, and its all about the almightily dollar you say. Nike put up the $$$, and they control the shots. OK, well, sure, Nike, has offered some rather large sponsorship funding to USATF. Both now and for the foreseeable future. And I’m not so sure I’m really OK with this, and think both Nike and USATF are guilty here. Having the majoity of the USATF operating budget come form one single outside company is not OK. The Figures I’ve heard are 16-20 million from Nike out of a 24-30 million yearly operating budget. Half to two-thirds of the annul budget is coming from a fashion company that wants its wares seen. So if this is a pure financial issue in the real world, it would be an anti-trust case. Any lawyers want to back me up on this one and go to town?
Who’s really in control here?
Look USATF – you got yourself into this mess when you allowed an apparel company to buy controlling interest. And if you were Tide, no one would really care. But this isn’t Tide. You exist to help “us” as individuals, as a community, as a governing body, and as a nation. Each athletes that trains and races under your auspice has nobel goals of being the best they can for themselves, and for our country. Its what the entire Olympic movement is based upon. Faster, Higher, Stronger is supposed to mean athleticism, not the stock ticker.
So how about some answers guys? Nike or USATF- either of you feel like telling us what kind of biz deal you struck for this holy grail of sponsorship? Because in general, sponsors have the best interest of those they support. That’s the entire reason you’d sponsor someone to begin with, right? You felt compelled to enable all US athletes to succeed at the highest level…..right Nike? And the terms that you, USATF, agreed to upheld your mission statement….right? They allowed for athletes rights to support themselves and maintain their own sponsorship and income so they can do things like, say, eat and sleep under a roof between training runs. Because I’ve got to tell you, the mumblings around the world of track and field are not so positive. Its completely backfired. The swoosh is not a sign of inspiration, but rather big brother looming overhead. Look Nike, we know you are a big company, and you have lots of money. That doesn’t mean you have to be the big bully that no one respects.
In short, I’ve got to say – this is embarrassing. The goals of our NGB have clearly gotten compromised. Nick has been training hard to be ready for you, and ready for the world stage. What have you done constructively to help him? I’m shocked, puzzled, and perplexed at your decision to leave Nick off the world team: a true conflict in interests. But if you guys try to pull this stunt again and look past him, or anyone else in this situation, for the Olympics, well, I’d ask all parties involved to read the mission statement of USATF, and ask yourself what you’ve done to uphold that message today, and for the future.