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Just as the Nike "dream with us" ad, promoting gender equality, is released Olympic runner Alysia Montaño slaps back in a New York Times opinion piece.
The ad shows scores of young women running toward their goals and dreams, out from school buildings, into sports fields, through rain and snow in long lines. The visual idea is crystal clear and well executed, each athlete inspired another. Be they young girls dreaming of playing for the Yankees or in a great basketball team. The VO asks "will you be the generation who ends gender inequality? Or will you show that champions in your sport can also look like you?" I thought Simone Biles already showed this when she became the all-around, vault and floor gold medalist, and balance-beam bronze medalist in the 2016 Olympics? Either way, we get the "just do it" point here, don't let anything stop you. In that sense, it's not a bad ad.
Look, we've had the term "greenwashing" for a while now, at some point can we dub this sort of advertising "cause-washing"? In the end, when a giant corporation is just borrowing the cause but not walking the walk, it rings quite hollow. As Alysia Montaño points out in her opinion piece, the four Nike executives who negotiate contracts for track and field athletes are all men. And while sponsors allow for time off due to injuries, they do not allow for time off due to pregnancy. Watch the ad with that in mind.
For the Olympian Kara Goucher, the most difficult part of motherhood wasn’t resuming training just a week after childbirth in 2010. It wasn’t even when her doctor told her she must choose: run 120 miles each week or breast-feed her son. Her body couldn’t do both.
The toughest moment was when Ms. Goucher learned that Nike would stop paying her until she started racing again. But she was already pregnant. So, she scheduled a half-marathon three months after she had her son, Colt. Then her son got dangerously ill. Ms. Goucher had to choose again: be with her son or prepare for the race that she hoped would restart her pay.
She kept training. “I felt like I had to leave him in the hospital, just to get out there and run, instead of being with him like a normal mom would,” Ms. Goucher said, crying at the memory. “I’ll never forgive myself for that.”