As you may have heard by now, Nick Symmonds will not be running the 800m at World Championships despite winning the title at US Outdoor Championships. Nick runs for Brooks, and he has demonstrated that loyalty comes before $$$.

The issue between Nick and USATF is the “Statement of Conditions” that all athletes are required to sign. In particular, there is an issue over what constitutes other “official” team functions. However, I think the big problem came with the letter that USATF sent to athletes – it said they should pack “only Team USA, Nike, or non-branded apparel.” In other words, it made it sound as if everything was an official team function.

Here is Nick’s position on the dispute.

Here is the USATF position.

Here is the opinion of an attorney who has experience in sports law.

As I’ve pointed out before, USATF is in bed with Nike. USATF currently receives $10,000,000/year from Nike, and beginning in 2017, it will receive more than $20,000,000/year from Nike. Not only that, the contract beginning in 2017 will run through 2040.

In 2013, USATF had total revenue of just under $20,000,000 – that means that Nike comprised approximately half of the total revenue. In 2017, Nike would comprise as much as 2/3 of total revenue. This has led to some very suspect decisions in the past, and it could lead to a grim future for the sport.

Lolo Jones has offered support to Nick – this isn’t surprising, as she has had uniform controversies of her own in the past (Lolo has worn a Red Bull headband that certain meet organizers did not appreciate).

Some folks have compared Symmonds to another Oregon native – Steve Prefontaine. Steve used to battle regularly with AAU over the meager support given to athletes. While the issues have changed to an extent, and the players are somewhat different, I think it is a valid comparison.

What do you think about Nick’s stance?

If you were sponsored by Brooks, Oiselle, New Balance, etc., how would you feel about being told to leave your sponsor’s apparel at home?

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4 Responses to #LetNickRun

  1. wanderwolf says:

    I don’t understand why it’s okay for Nike to monopolize a meet. I thought running was about democracy and being able to fun for yourself and whatever you chose to run for? Even if it’s money from a different company than the main “donor”? This is lame.

  2. Ellie says:

    I would wear whatever brand I felt more loyalty to. If Nike pays for me, I would wear them. If Brooks paid for my stuff, then I would display their gear. I would let the athletes wear the brand during the meet but maybe give them Nike tattoos or other things that show support to the USTAF sponsor as well. That’s what tattoos were made for.

  3. KatieRuns says:

    I think this whole thing is so bad because it’s not even a matter of choice for the athletes here. They are being put in a position where they are forced to violate contracts with their sponsors which could potentially be to the detriment of their positions at those companies. Track & field athletes don’t get paid a lot and rely on sponsorship to attain the standards needed for events like the World Champs. So the part each of these sponsorship companies plays (pays) in helping them get there should be recognised – not completely shot down by the Nike Monopoly. The thing I most take issue with is the stipulation by USATF that athletes cannot wear any other brands than Nike even in the hotel! Fair enough, we’re Nike branded USA kit – but to ban anything else during athletes’ downtime?? Draconian…

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