Elaine Thompson-Herah sizzles to historic double-double at Tokyo 2020
Elaine Thompson-Herah sizzles to historic double-double at Tokyo 2020

I see a social media push to boycott Nike because of the perceived slight Nike may be giving Elaine Thompson-Herah. I, like most of those complaining, do not have all the information. 

Elaine and her management team have not publicly said anything on the topic. It seems, to me, the uproar stems from the way they perceive Nike marketing Sha’Carrie Richardson as against the way they market Elaine. 

The NBC Prefontaine Classic coverage had Sha’Carrie Richardson advertisement running throughout the meet. People saw nothing of and no push by Nike for Thompson-Herah and assume bias.

Like everyone without the full knowledge, I can only try logical deduction. I am not saying anyone is right or wrong. Nevertheless, I have a different spin on things. Of course, NBC did an absolute poor job in not interviewing Elaine live. She not only won the women 100m, but is the current Olympic sprint double champion and ran 10.54, which is the second-fastest run of all time. Many athletes and track & field fans, including me, believe the world record of 10.49 can be broken in our lifetime for the first time. Why NBC could not find the time to interview Elaine on live television boggles the mind.

Nike is not NBC. Nike is an American company that market sportswear all over the world, with America being its biggest market. The US has not won the Olympic 100m since 2000. Sha’Carrie was their hope. Love, like, or hate her, she does a marvellous job in getting people to watch. She made the Prefontaine Classic women 100m final a must-watch. The Jamaican women one, two, three finish in the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympic 100m was seen by many Americans as happening because Sha’Carrie Richardson was not there. Thus, Nike went on board with the hype (credit Sha’Carrie) and huge social media following.

Who should be the right person for Nike to market? Should they go for Elaine, the undisputed number one female sprinter, or Sha’Carrie, the great American hope? Nike tends to go for the hype over the current performance. They went for Michael Jordan before he was winning anything. They took a gamble that paid off handsomely for both Nike and Jordan. I think that is the same mentality they are having, only that this is more a gamble than with Jordan. 

Sprinting on a whole can be extremely unpredictable. The life span of sprinters, on average, can be short. Being the dominant sprinter or sure future great can change on a whim. It is not unusual to see a new star rise and take the world by storm.

With this backdrop, bias or no bias, would you fault Nike for their marketing decision? After deep thinking, I conclude that what Nike did or is doing like it or not, it is a cold, objective business decision. 

Boycotting may cause NIKE to re-evaluate its business decision and change, only if it negatively affects its bottom line. Then they will probably find another mix that will increase their bottom line.

 I believe NBC did a poor job overall. It was not only Elaine slight that stands out like a sore thumb. Teahna Daniels ran a personal best of 10.83, she was elated and celebrated with her mother. Yet NBC ignored such a feel-good story of their countrywoman. I do not know if they were following sponsor demand or not, but they did a bad job overall. Not interviewing Elaine on live television was bad and weird, but as I said before, NBC is not Nike.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.

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