Why elite female athletes are turning away from major sponsors

Ms. Carrion-John noted that more than a third of the US track and field female roster is made up of Nike athletes. “The individual conditions of a handful of athletes are not representative of Nike’s support of the women’s sport,” he said, adding that “no shoe, apparel, or equipment manufacturer will endorse the support provided by Nike for the women’s sport, period.” Doesn’t provide levels.”

Sure, Nike is a huge company and has supported a huge number of athletes over the decades. “Nike has done a lot of great things, but sometimes when you’re the bigger brand, there are more opportunities for things to go wrong at the end of the day,” said Merhavi Keflezighi, founder of HAWI Management, who led Mr. was represented. and manages Ms. Pappas. He lauded the company for changing its policies for pregnant athletes and said that since 2016 the industry has become less aggressive about contract reduction.

New sponsorship opportunities are arising as the athletic apparel market continues to grow – a trend that has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. Athleta and Lululemon were among the rare apparel brands whose sales soared last year. In the running world, there were five to six brands that were more visible at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in June than ever before, Lululemon’s Ms. Neuberger said.

“The athletic sportswear and athletic market is transitioning from growth to maturity with new and growing entrants,” said Angeline Close Sheinbaum, associate professor of marketing at Clemson University. “So naturally, there is a shift in athlete endorsers from market leader to other brands.”

Dr. Sheinbaum said he saw this trend less as an exodus of established leaders and more about “athletes, especially women, joining a smaller brand that is synonymous with these star athletes and their platforms and stories.” Can be made.”

In fact, brands that are chasing elite female athletes are more inclined to embrace their backgrounds and causes that matter to them. Ms Cain said the most famous female athletes often become household names because there is “more” attached to their performance – “athletes and activists” or “athletes and mental health advocates,” she said.

“Unless you have five different ways to sell yourself, you’re not worth monetarily in the same way that you have the white dude next to you,” she said. While that dynamic is unfair, she said, it has led to a situation where female athletes have larger and more engaged followings online, and more brands are starting to pay attention to that.

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