This does seem fair really

Hannah Cockroft has accused the world’s two leading sportswear brands of discrimination after claiming the reason she does not have a kit sponsor is because she does not wear shoes during her wheelchair races.

Cockroft, who is expected to be one of the stars of the Paralympic Games in Rio after winning two golds at London 2012 and three in last year’s world championships, is the dominant figure in her sport but said Adidas and Nike have cited her inability to use their footwear in competition as a justification for not sponsoring her. The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, has been angered by a situation she feels illustrates how disabled athletes are still fighting for greater recognition.

“The real reason?” the ParalympicsGB athlete said. “I have been told it’s because I don’t wear shoes when I compete. What do I do with that? I wear a shirt, I wear trousers, I wear shoes on the podium when I’m collecting a gold medal. But apparently because that’s not when I’m competing that’s not enough. I’ve been told this by Nike, Adidas, all the big brands. I told them it was discrimination. It is discrimination.

There is taste discrimination and there’s rational discrimination. It does seem rational that a footwear brand doesn’t sponsor someone who doesn’t use footwear.

And her actual complaint is worse than that. She’s claiming discrimination simply because they won’t cut a commercial deal with her that she thinks is large enough.

32 thoughts on “This does seem fair really”

  1. When are they going to bring in the Geriatrilympics?
    It seems grossly unfair and discriminatory to me that people over the age of 30 scarcely get a look in.

  2. “angered by a situation she feels illustrates how disabled athletes are still fighting for greater recognition.”

    We’ve reached this point for the same reason as women athletes: that the media again and again keep telling them that they matter as much as the best athletes.

    The Paralympics are a private sporting event. Like 4 blokes going for a golf weekend. It matters to them and their families and friends. But it doesn’t matter to anyone else.

  3. “…it is understood the companies’ offers have fallen below expectations. She has lost one race in the past four years and there is a belief she deserves a deal befitting an elite athlete. “

    And whining about it is going to help with that..?

  4. “And whining about it is going to help with that..?”

    Probably, I’m afraid. Because disability rights or something.

  5. They can hear the starting gun unless totally deaf across that range of sounds. Not that many I would imagine.
    And they will look for visual cues.

    Deaf does not often mean unable to hear at all. Ever noticed the hearing aids Deaf people often wear, or a little implant in their skull? Allows hearing. Maybe not what you hear and often with particular sounds muted or missing but hearing other sounds just fine with them.

  6. Never watched it. I assume the deaf win everything anyway.

    I never bother to watch the real Olympics, let alone the Spastic Games.

  7. Bring on the Blimpics, I say. Entry restricted to those with a BMI of 30 or above, sponsored by … you name it, Asda, Coca-Cola, Mars, Domino’s Pizza …

  8. Thomas, you missed out track-suit suppliers! The less athletic-looking the person, the more likely they are to wear track-suits…..

  9. So a private company refusing to give money to someone who, lets be honest, at best has a minor profile and comes with a number of attitudinal and clothing issues is discrimination?

    I can name about two maybe three Team GB paralympians, it isnt a good place to spend money if a company wants to ship extra units, and they arent obliged either.

  10. ‘Thomas, you missed out track-suit suppliers! The less athletic-looking the person, the more likely they are to wear track-suits…..’

    ‘You wear your tracky bottoms to a wedding… Though you’ve never been on a track in your life.’

    – Scally Scally Scouse / Mundo Jazz

  11. I’m not sure how marketable para-athletes are in comparison to abled bodies ones. The Paralympics is only once every four years and there is not much in-between with much media coverage. So hardly surprising that sportswear firms will offer lesser deals.
    Apparently Jason Kenny (5 Olympic golds including 3 at Rio has almost no sponsors, while Laura Trott has quite a few (as she has more marketability). So if three Olympic golds doesn’t guarantee sponsors, a para-athlete is got to be very marketable.

  12. Most (nearly all?) advertising and sponsorship messages are aspirational from the target’s perspective.

    Allowing for a small number of people at the scrag end of the LGBTXYZ roll of honour, nobody aspires to be a cripple.

  13. Why would footwear brands want to be associated with people who can’t walk (I’m assuming that’s the case for people in a wheelchair race)? Surely that would be bad for the brand.

  14. On Twitter everyone is either a Nike athlete or an Adidas athlete.

    Except the most famous track and field athlete of the last 3 Olympic Games is quite obviously sponsored by Puma, love.

  15. They’ve cut back on it a bit but there used to be so many different classifications of disability that virtually everyone was in their own competition. They were dishing out gold medals by the barrow load.

  16. We’ll know it has gone too far when little boys start chopping off their legs in the hope of being mildly famous once every four years.

    But then again it’s easier just to chop off your man-bits, with the full encouragement of society. Then you can demand attention every single day, not just once every four years.

  17. File article under “Nice brand you’ve got here. Would be a shame if anything happened to it”.

    Why doesn’t the Guardian sponsor her?

  18. It appears this woman has not marketed herself very well to the various brands.

    We know what the brands bring to the table. What does the athlete?
    What are they bringing that is worth more to the brand than any other person applying for sponsorship?

    People appear to forget the sponsorship is a two way deal. Its not just companies putting their logo on someone.

  19. Knew someone who played for a national rugby teams disabled squad, I was surprised as I wasn’t aware he was disabled in any way, turned out he had partial hearing restrictions in one ear, didn’t qualify as fully deaf, but enough to qualify for the rugby squad.

  20. “… there is a belief she deserves a deal befitting an elite athlete. “

    Not to belittle this person’s accomplishments but . . . she’s *not* an elite athlete. If she were she’d have been competing in the regular Olympics, no?

    She’s undoubtedly top of her class. But that alone does not make you ‘elite’.

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