Lights Out to Nikes Female Empowerment Views Nikes Female Empowerment Views torn down by Former Nike Runner


Triton Voice/Daily News

The Triton Girls Cross Country Team during the past season runs together.

“Strong is the new beautiful,” “Girls from Compton don’t just play tennis. They own it”, “Dream crazier.” These slogans are all a part of the Nike female empowerment campaign, but recent abuse allegations from former Nike runner, Mary Caine, are putting Nikes views on female empowerment in question.  On November 7th, 2019, Mary Cain a former Nike runner released a video via The New York Times about the abuse she had to deal with while running under Nike.  When Cain was in high school she was one of the best athletes not only in high school, but the world. Cain made the 2013 USA World Championship team, making her the youngest to ever do so and in 2014, Cain won the World Junior Championship for the 3000 meter. In the video, Cain described what the former Nike Oregon Project, Alberto Salazar, said and did to her. She described how Salazar repeatedly shamed her in front of other athletes about her weight and how she told Salazar she was cutting herself and he did not do anything.  Many other female athletes, such as Olympian Allyson Felix, have come out and talked about the dark side of being a professional female athlete. 

“It’s not just her (Cain),  there are several other women who have come out now from that program saying that they (coaches) were putting extreme pressure on the to lose weight,” said long time cross-country and track coach,” Mr. Joseph Colbert.  

Cain’s story is very upsetting and horrifying to hear, but sadly it is not uncommon. Many young, talented female athletes go through the same exact thing and their stories go unknown because they dont speak out. After Cain spoke out about her story, people began to question the way Nike treats their female athletes.  Many others have spoken out against big athletic corporations and have had nothing done to meet their concerns. When Olympian Allyson Felix had a baby and took a break from running, Nike told her that she had to come back at a certain time or she wouldn’t get paid. Felix then ended her contract with Nike and told the public about her story. Athleta then signed Allyson Felix when she came back from maternity leave. Although Felix got signed again, nothing was done about Nikes maternity leave policies. 

“Women don’t get the right treatment and representation within coaching and training programs,” said CAL all-star senior Kylie Lorenzo, “There is this pressure for women to follow exact orders that men are giving them.”

When looking at most professional female runners, they all look very lean and skinny. Their ideal running weight or otherwise known as their “race weight” is based off of how tall they are. According to the article, “Getting it Right: Weight Relative to Height in Distance Running” by Frank Horwell of Serpentine,a distance runner needs to weigh less, about 5 to 10 per cent less. This makes our 6 foot tall male requiring to be 8 to 17 lbs less than his 1761bs, around 168 lbs to 159 lbs. And our female of 5ft 6ins should be around 6 lbs to 13lbs less, around 124 lbs to 117 lbs.” A female runner who is 5 ‘7, such as Cain, should be around a race weight of 122 pounds. Salzar wanted Cain to be 114 pounds, which is 8 pounds under her ideal race weight. Making Cain underweight. 

“Everyones race weight is different according to their height, no one body type works for every runner,” said sophmore and Daily News all-star Ellie Gay-Killeen.

After Cain made her allegations against Nike and coach Salazar, Nike revealed that as of last April, Cain wanted to rejoin the Nike Oregon Project and didn’t raise any of these concerns with them. As a women, Lorenzo knows the struggle of how hard it is for women to speak out against someone who had controlled them for so long. 

“I feel like she (Cain) wanted to rejoin because she wanted control of her body back,” said Lorenzo. “She wanted to prove she was still a good runner after a couple of  years without their training.”