Sunday, May 26, 2019

Don't Penalize Women Athletes After They Give Birth

Me exercising 33 days after giving birth
Thank goodness I'm not a sponsored athlete. I don't have to worry about getting back to racing form quickly after giving birth. Nike, Asics and other sports brands came under fire this past week for penalizing female athletes being pregnant. I was appalled reading what they had to go through after giving birth.

Nike's contracts allow for their athletes up to six months to recover from injuries. Their pay can be reduced but their contract cannot terminated. However, this does not include pregnancy and postpartum recovery. This forces female athletes to compete while pregnant or too soon after childbirth or risk losing pay.

Because of  clauses above, Olympian Kara Goucher (previously sponsored by Nike and now Oiselle and Skechers) was forced to choose between running 120 miles a week or breast feed her son as her body couldn't do both. She didn't mind resuming training a week after giving birth (in 2010), her toughest moment was when she learnt that Nike would stop paying her until she resumed racing.

If Allyson Felix, winner of six Olympic gold medals and 11-time world champion in athletics cannot secure maternity protection from Nike, who can?

There may be much more cases like these as many athletes who were interview requested anonymity as they feared retribution or had signed nondisclosure agreements.
Alysia Montano racing when 8 and half months pregnant
After all those recent Nike ads about empowering girls and women, they should put their money where their mouth is.

I wonder if our sponsored Singapore female athletes like Rachel Yang face similar pressures. After all, the women are not competing for themselves, they are also raising our future generation.

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