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Things Coach MK Can't Say In a Newsletter, 10/20/19: Options are a Privilege.

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

Nike Swoosh is everywhere monopoly high school sports

Seems like all anyone can talk about this week is Kipchoge breaking 2 and Brigid Kosegi shattering the women’s world marathon record by nearly one-and-a-half minutes (much to the relief of some).

Really though, we’re talking about the shoes. “ There’s no longer any room for doubt about the massive effects of shoes with carbon fiber plates,” says Alex Hutchinson. Think piece after think piece addressed whether the shoes should be banned in competition...

If you read nothing else, read this, please.

...which means we are still talking about Nike and whether the company’s tactics go too far.

It’s an interesting question. The story underpinning our answers is even more interesting.

There are all kinds of reasons to dislike Nike. It has a LOT of control in areas that may surprise you, all resulting from smart, long-term business strategies. The NOP, led by Salazar, definitely crossed lines, and many were crossed with corporate blessings. At the same time, the NOP is a drop in the bucket for Nike; its corporate interests are far broader. The sponsorship dollars paid to athletes come from Nike’s marketing budget, and Nike exclusively backs winners. They don’t lose. They really don’t. They also understand, better than even we do, how we make purchasing decisions and when we are willing to see one bad apple.

Fact of the matter is this: Nike is a marketing company. Its refusal to change the treatment of its sponsored female athletes substantially tells you that they know people will buy their record-breaking magic shoes no matter how those shoes are made, no matter how the company treats contract employees. It’s not bad business until it’s bad optics, and the optics from the maternity leave controversy are overshadowed by both stories this week.

In the world of sports, distance running is TINY. It’s also relatively powerless- we mentioned in our previous newsletter that distance running has no formal league therefore pro athletes have very limited bargaining power; power lies in the hands of the companies who have marketing dollars to spend as well as the agents who have relationships with the check-writers. In many sports, Nike is the only check-writer, the sole option. They know you’ll never believe that Olympians didn’t have multiple options. Nike doesn’t lose, athletes do.

If Nike is cancelled to you, if you can easily substitute their products in your life, that is totally valid. Most of us vote with our wallets in one way or another. Remember that Nike’s dominance stems from monopolistic control; not everyone can move away from their influence (or even afford to try). When blowback falls on those who choose to associate with Nike, Nike still isn’t losing.

I, Coach MK, can think of one person who would never willingly give money to Nike again. I can also think of multiple situations where Nike will be the (scroll down after clicking) only option. I’m not gonna be mad at her if she exercises it, I’m going to challenge the systems that limit available options.

TLDR; Don’t hate the players, hate the game. Challenge the system. Support the athletes. Demand #cleansport. Anger is a gift, use it wisely.

Photo Credit: PCN Photography


Who is our runner of the week? CHECK COACH SARAH'S NEWSLETTER TO FIND OUT!

New Nuzzel HERE

New CL Newsletter HERE

New FPP Newsletter HERE

New FPP Podcast HERE and free PDF download HERE

NOW for your Nuzzel News Outtakes!

I wish this week had been about Steph Bruce's PR atThe Chicago Marathon, but we can't have nice things!


This was my favorite longread, COURTNEY DAUWALTER OF COURSE:

My brush with Ovarian Cancer caused this to resonate:

It’s mental health awareness month, and there’s no such thing as too much Carol Seppilu coverage:

If you really want to understand the objections to the shoes, start here:

Finally, here are Amby Burfoot’s thoughts about the event:

Body Image and Fatphobia


This story about post-partum everything really resonated with me:

“She runs now because she wants to, not because anyone is expecting her to. The 29-year-old thinks it’s a privilege to run, to compete, to exist exactly as she is in the body she was gifted with.”

There is SO MUCH BEAUTY in finding that freedom.

"Doctors told her what women complaining of diffuse, hard to diagnose but very real symptoms so often hear:You’re making this up."

WOW, this is hard to read.

"For its inventor, the BMI was a way of measuring populations, not individuals — and it was designed for the purposes of statistics, not individual health. And while the academic’s work spanned many disciplines, he was never trained in medicine."

Extremely validating piece.

As Seen On Our FB Pages


Pro Running


Sigh. The IOC never *quite* gets it right….

Yes, Rio was hot. Yes, most summer olympic destinations have historically been hot. Doha was still a different kind of hot. “Had it been any other race... I would have DNSed”

Not really about running, but am hopeful these new podcasts will bring real change in the way ALL women’s sports are covered:

Emma Coburn recaps her World Championship race on the Nuun Blog:

Proletariat Running

Soccer Star turns to Olympic Trials

Terrific read on training for the Trials:

More OTQ runners

I LOVE the profiles from Monumental Runner:

“If you have a plan in place that you’ve practiced before—a positive mantra or an idea for ways to bring positive thoughts to mind—you may find that you can get through those ‘down phases‘ or ‘tough times.’”

Luckily, your brilliant coaches always have mantras to spare. Write to us if you need a specific one tailored to you!!

"Looking back, it might not have been the wisest decision to run. 'Some people might say, ‘Be smart, you don’t know if you can finish. Do it next year,’' Olaru says. 'I wasn’t smart, I ran with my heart, I didn’t run with my mind.'"

SO many thoughts on this.

Trail Running

This was one of my favorites but I’m putting here so my trail runners who don’t read any other section of this page don’t miss it:

Nothing To Do With Running



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