I'll be honest -- the petition did not "connect the dots" in terms of explaining why it is Nike's responsibility to sponsor Sarah. Being Gwen, I did some digging...
I believe the real reason behind the Petition is contained in a recent slate.com article on Sarah (
The article on Slate.com points out one key fact that makes the Sarah Robles Change.org petition cogent: Nike Weightlifting had sponsored weightlifters Natalie Burgener and Erin Wallace, and both were ranked lower than Sarah or unranked by US Weightlifting. The article asserts that, because Natalie and Erin's physical appearances defy the stereotype of a strong woman, they were sponsored. Hence, "Sarah Robles is too big to get" a sponsorship.
Ok, I can understand why an athlete like Sarah would feel slighted. I can even buy this as a reason to petition.
let's look even a little closer, let's be aspirational! What change ought this petition bring about? What are the REAL PROBLEMS facing America's Olympic Athletes?
Let's dig in....
1. Nike is a third party. Nike is not the custodian of US Olympic Athletes- the USOC is.
The petition ought to be directed at the United States Government to increase funding to the USOC and for the USOC to fund developing athletes.
Third World countries like Guatemala have a better athlete support system than the USA. The 2010 Olympic Weightlifting budget for Colombia was 140 times greater than USA Weightliftings!
Why do third world countries have better athlete support than the USA?
Because they do not have a large military obligation, hence they have government funds to invest in programs – like Olympic sports- to keep kids off the street and instill a sense of national pride.
The US Military budget is larger than the GDP of most countries. As the war in Iraq is officially over, our defense budget should decrease. I work in the Aerospace industry, and business people in the defense industry are anticipating these record levels of government spending to drop. Still, our US defense budget is $606 Billion dollars, that’s $606,000,000. Why can’t congress give the US Olympic Committee a measly 0.1% of that per year?
2. Nike weightlifting product description targets “lighter athletes”
On http://www.athleteps.com/2010/nike-weightlifting/, the wording under a picture of the Nike weightlifting shoe is:
|From athleteps.com on July 20, 2012, |
"lighter athlete" text hightlighted and comment added
Note, the phrase "especially for lighter athletes". Giving Nike the benefit of the doubt, if their shoes are designed for lighter athletes, then this could be why Natalie Brugener would address their target audience.
3. Is there a difference between athletes featured as sponsored by Nike weightlifting and Nike Voices?:
Again, the Petition mentions Nike's Voices campaign, suggesting Sarah should be included. The Nike voices campaign features Olympic and Senior World Championship medalists. None of the Nike Weightlifting athletes have won medals on the Olympic and Senior World level. Hence, you might assume that the level of sponsorship dollars might differ quite a bit.
Taking this one step further, an athlete like Micheal Phelps has multiple large endorsements as he is the reigning, undisputed Olympic Champion in 8 events. So, yeah, body image aside, he is as amazing as Naim Suleymonoglu and has earned such a level of attention.
So what I'm trying to say is: relying on corporate sponsors, alone, to support Olympic athletes is not a good business model as not all athletes, or even Gold medallist athletes, are going to be Micheal Phelps.
Our great country should support its athletes, as they symbolize the American spirit in each Olympic event they compete. Think of Jesse Owens, an African American, competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin-- humiliating the Hitler-- as he won Olympic Golds. Also think of Norbert Schemansky winning his 4th Olympic medal, then being fired for missing work to compete at the Olympic Games!
The US spends money on pork like "arrows for kids", yet we force our athletes to be shamefully undersuppported. Let's change this.
Slate.com article:< http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/07/18/weightlifter_sarah_robles_too_big_to_get_the_big_time_endorsements_.html>
USOC budget http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/13/AR2010011304258_2.html?sid=ST2010011304440
US defense Budget: