Brad Walker dropped by Nike...

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Brad Walker dropped by Nike...

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:18 am

Here's a funny story.....

After placing 4th at worlds I was dropped from NIKE. Well sort of dropped. Let me explain.

After my 2012 season, making the Olympic final, having one of the top 5 highest jumps of the year, and being ranked top 10 in the world, I was offered a contract that would allow me to purchase about a used 2008 Prius. And if you don't know what that value is, lets just say that it is well below the poverty line.

I didn't sign. I shopped around. A persons market value is only what the market is willing to pay them, even if we want to believe otherwise. I couldn't sort out anything better from any other sponsor. So I jumped unattached for the better part of the season, knowing that I could always fall back on the NIKE deal. The reason that I finally signed was that I had a good feeling about Worlds, and wanted the medal bonuses the contract had to offer. And by the way, the contract would have locked me in for the next two years.

I reluctantly signed, and I was on my way. Now my shoes are made especially for me. I have a carbon plate inserted into the shoe because the base pv light shoe is not nearly stiff enough. Its a bit of a hassle to get new ones because they come out of Beaverton, and need a window of a few weeks to be made and shipped. And since I hadn't signed my used Prius contract, I didn't feel it was right for me to asked for new shoes heading into worlds.

So I took my NIKE pv lights into the comp and laced em up like normal. The velcro on the shoes is not up to par and I have complained about it's lack of stickiness several times over the years saying we need to do better. The shoes share the same space as my chalk bag, the velcro fills with chalk, and gets even less grippy. So after warmups, knowing the straps were barely stuck on, I taped them. This isn't new. If you google Brad Walker pole vault and hit images, you can scroll through pics and see that I have done this over the years.

The last thing I need at Worlds with a 1:00 time clock is to have a strap come loose and flop around during my approach. So....tape em up and lets go.

Big no no. The high ups at NIKE felt as though I taped up the swoosh and they knew I had competed in different tops throughout the season. I didn't feel obligated to jump for NIKE when I wasn't a NIKE athlete.

I received an email from my manager stating that the man in charge was absolutely furious with me. He stated that if I needed new shoes I should have ordered them. And then frankly said "We no longer want Brad, tell him to look elsewhere." And there you have it.

I am no longer a NIKE athlete because while trying to use one of their products, I had to use tape to hold together a shoe that shouldn't break down within 6 months.

The real bummer out of all of this is that if 4th best vaulter in the world can't sign a deal that allows him to be a full time athlete, than I am scared at what our younger vaulters are going to be facing. We are truly amateur again.

I do have a plan. When I get back home, I am going to be opening up an ebay account. I am going to be selling every article of NIKE clothing and shoes that I own. Olympic jackets, pole vault spikes, Free's, and training shoes etc. Some are slightly used, a ton have never been worn. I won't be wearing NIKE again in my future, and liquidating may actually help me mentally as well as financially. That way I can pay rent and train like a professional athlete. I'll keep you guys posted, but there is going to be some cool stuff up for grabs, and the money will be supporting the pole vaulting brotherhood.

Until then.....

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Re: Brad Walker dropped by Nike...

Unread postby volunteer » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:55 pm

Interesting. I've noticed for years that Brad has taped his shoes. I figured it was because the Velcro was worn... not bad Velcro from the get go. And you can still see the Nike logo in just about every video or photo where he has them taped. it just looks like he had a favorite pair and taped them up to keep using them.

I would think that Nike would want to have the #1 vaulter on every continent to be on their team. I guess since everyone uses their stuff , whether it is the best or not , they still roll in the $$$$$

There may not be many options for vaulters and sponsorships. But think big, search big. You never know where a sponsor may come from. And there are plenty of shoe companies with good vault shoes. maybe it's time for a company like Brooks , or Li Ning to step up and dominate track and field .

Good luck

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Re: Brad Walker dropped by Nike...

Unread postby PV2020 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:21 am

The Nike PVI came out almost 7 years ago and has barely changed other than the color and them some what making it a little more durable when the came out with the PVII. I have always heard people mention problems with the velcro but I have never actually had the problem myself. There is one thing almost anyone who has ever used velcro knows, if you get it dirty it will not work! Brad mentioned in his post that he kept his shoes with his chalk and he knew that was one of the main reasons the velcro did not stick right. I am not saying it is the best shoe in the world, but I am saying there are enough people that have success with them jumping on them much longer than 6 months before they start to fall apart. They already made him a stiffer spike plate to his preference when most people that want one of those just get the Zoom Triple Jump.

The truth of the matter is this: There is a 99% chance that the tape had almost 0% to do with them not offering him a contract.

Walker was in the final year of his contract and currently having one of the worst years of his life! He finished 8th at USA Indoors with 5.35 and only won outdoors with 5.65. The only people that Nike pays essentially above minimum wage are those that consistently have a shot at a gold medal, and distance runners. USA sprinters do well because they win, but is only the ones winning that are paid somewhat decently.

Being in what most consider to be a side show event in one of the worst years of his career he took the gamble that he would medal at worlds, collect the bonus on his old contract, and then sign for a better one after worlds. He gambled and he lost. He taped over the shoe which is a big no-no with Nike (they will fine a college football program if an athlete has their shoe taped over for ankle support if that athlete does not have a note from a doctor saying they have to have it!). Now they have the poster child of the PVII going out there on the world stage taping over the shoe making it look like it is falling apart and needs to be held together, and then he does not medal. If you look closely he does not even come close to covering the swoosh so I highly doubt that was the issue. All these things combined probably just make them think that Walker is not the best model for the PV II. I do not know about you but if I was trying to sell a car I would not take it to auction with duct tape on the window.

I am by no means saying Walker does not deserve a better contract, merely that this is how the game of athletics is played and he broke some important rules. Nike essentially is the boss and if you complain about your job without being the ABSOLUTE best, you get fired and they go get someone else who is living off of well-fare that is more than willing to have your job. This year alone the USA had 3 college kids who have jumped the A standard as well as one over 5.81 (Walker only jumped 5.83 this year). And you have to remember the majority of these college guys are about to be living off of much less as well as paying back student loans the second they graduate and would love the crappy contract Walker turned down.

People must remember, track and field is a business. You have to play the contract game as well as promote yourself, but you definitely do not piss off your sponsor when you are having one of the worst years of your career.

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