By Crystal Kupper, Editor, Life in Oregon
An avid runner since childhood, I can never get enough track and field news, especially about Oregon’s athletes. Yet the revelations from Win At All Costs: Inside Nike Running and Its Culture of Deception, the latest book from investigative journalist Matt Hart, were about as much fun as hill sprints in the rain.
Most damning to me was the way Nike and Alberto Salazar (vaunted Olympian, three-time New York City Marathon winner and track coach to America’s best) treated Kara Goucher, a star lady runner. Already known for his sometimes-questionable coaching methods, Salazar micro-managed Goucher’s body to the point that he created a graph showing her and her husband Adam exactly when she was “allowed” to get pregnant.
After the graph, he wrote, “Option 1: You go through fertility treatment and have a baby. Option 2: Adam takes a cold shower. Adam keeps taking cold showers.” Kara had her son Colt in 2010. Yet Nike then suspended her contract without pay — all because she had gone a year without racing professionally. You know, because she had just had a baby.
Wait, I thought Oregon was supposed to be all about a woman’s right to choose? I thought what happened in an Oregonian’s bedroom was entirely self-determined?
Pregnancy is not a disease to be managed by men who stand to directly benefit, financially or otherwise, from women being un-pregnant. In Nike’s case, Kara Goucher could make them no money while expecting, so they treated her working reproductive capabilities like a risk to be mitigated instead of a sign of health to be celebrated.
When you live in an abortion-friendly culture like Oregon’s, it’s easy to believe these tiny lies that accompany it. Lies like pregnancies are an unfortunate pause from the real meaning of life (fame, wealth, education or status) or that pregnancy-incapable men are worth more (Nike offered Adam Goucher $90,000 per year straight out of college; his equally-as-decorated wife only got $35,000). Because when you see abortion as problem-solving, you naturally see the gender “needing” them as problem-creators.
In contrast, after I announced each of my pregnancies at the finish line of a marathon or half-marathon, my husband, father, and brothers all bragged about my accomplishments. Running 26.2 or 13.1 miles in the throes of morning sickness or well into my second trimester only heightened my athleticism in their eyes, not diminished it!Salazar and Nike could learn something from the men in my family: us runner-mothers in Oregon don’t need their style of “coaching.”