Nick Symmonds won’t be wearing Nike — and he won’t be running with USA Track & Field at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
The 800-meter champ and two-time Olympian and silver medalist earlier this week announced that he wouldn’t sign a contract with the USATR stipulating that Symmonds would have to wear Nike products and without specifying in what capacity Symmonds and his teammates would have to wear the brand. He refused to sign — and was cut from the team. Symmonds, a Brooks-sponsored athlete who won trials in June, took to Twitter to explain.
Proud to have stood my ground and fought another battle for athletes’ rights. A huge thank you to the media and fans for all your support.
— Nick Symmonds (@NickSymmonds) August 10, 2015
The dust-up also started a conversation and hashtag on Twitter called #LetNickRun.
Symonds isn’t the first athlete or organization to have a beef with a sponsor.
In late 2014, Reebok announced a sponsorship deal with Ultimate Fighting Champion — but every athlete was on board, most notably Anderson Silva, who went on record saying he wouldn’t wear Reebok products. A longtime fan of Nike (despite the fact that the brand had dropped Silva as result of its moving out of the mixed-martial arts space), Silva put up a fight, saying: “I do not like that idea. I do not have any identification with Reebok. I always used Nike, even before having a contract.”
In 2010, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University both dropped Nike as their athletic sponsor because the company was failing to pay more than $2 million in wages owed to workers in its Honduras factories.
Today, Adidas sponsors the Wisconsin Badgers, while Cornell and Nike eventually worked out a solution.