Nike drops sponsorship penalties for pregnant sportswomen following backlash

Nike commits to stopping financial penalties for pregnant athletes after backlash

After mounting criticism, Nike has announced it will no longer financially penalise sponsored-athletes who become pregnant.

The decision comes after current and former Nike-sponsored runners, Alysia Montaño, Kate Groucher, Phoebe Wright, Allyson Felix and Jo Pavey condemned the brand and made public the tough decisions they faced when deciding to have children.

In an video for The New York Times, earlier this month Montaño described the financial penalties she faced when she became pregnant, when Nike froze her sponsorship payments.

In the video, Montaño says "If we want to be an athlete and a mother, well that's just crazy." Before she refers to Nike's Dream Crazier advert, stating "believe in something. Even if it mean sacrificing everything, like maybe your contract, your pay."

The runners were affected by a clause in the sponsorship agreement that reduced payments if performance-based targets aren't reached.

Nike has said it will not remove performance-based targets all together, but it will wave the reduction for 12 months for athletes who decide to have a baby. It has said it can do more to support sportswomen.

“We’ve recognized Nike can do more, and there is an important opportunity for the sports industry collectively to evolve to better support female athletes,” Sandra Carreon-John, a Nike spokeswoman, said in a emailed statement.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.