Posts tagged with "shoe deals"

Op-Ed: The Treatment of Black Women in Business

Editors note: this opinion piece comes from Anthony Baldini, Founder of Athlete Strategies & “Sports in LA” | Sports business analyst | Investor in women’s sports properties. Baldini is a communications and business development advisor at the intersection of sports, technology, and venture capital.

This post is about the treatment of Black women in business. If you can’t handle it respectfully, don’t comment. Our collective goal for any discussion should be progress, not ego on who is right/wrong.  Nike is signing Caitlin Clark to an eight-figure deal and giving her a signature shoe – an obvious decision for the apparel behemoth. 

However, this means that the only active WNBA players with active signature shoes are: CC, Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne, and Sabrina Ionescu. 

What do they have in common? They’re all white women playing in a dominantly Black league.

This is a new development. Previously, almost every WNBA player signature shoe from 1995-2011 belonged to a Black woman: Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo (Cuban), Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley, Cynthia Cooper, Nikki McCray, Chamique Holdsclaw, Diana Taurasi (Argentinian-Italian) and Candace Parker. 

Stardom drives shoe deal decisions, but shoe deals also drive stardom. Marketers and media have the ability to dictate culture and what’s popular. And right now, basketball companies are saying *only* white women are the face of the WNBA, when A’ja, Arike, Jewell, AT and Sky are right there. 

Some say “they’re just the best players right now and more marketable,” but come on. COME ON. Stop that. Anyone who is authentically working in women’s sports genuinely understands that representation matters, both ethically and economically. Anyone disagreeing with that is a false actor. This is a truth I have seen first-hand. 

The U.S. economy stands to add trillions annually if there were more women entrepreneurs (which would require VCs funding women at a greater clip than the current 2-13% rate). Meanwhile, underrepresentation of Black businesses is costing the economy additional billions in unrealized revenues. And so it as a member of both these groups, the Black woman, who faces hardship and unequal footing in America in society and in business, from private civilians to premier basketball players. 

A’ja Wilson is on the 2024 TIME100 List. And yet for all the progress in society regarding race, and the celebration that is made of A’ja now in media, when it comes to actual *business transactions* that require supporting Black women there is a statistical-based significant fall off that is supported by anecdotal evidence like this WNBA shoe example. 

Credit to shoe brands for their aforementioned work from 1995-2011. But how in the 12+ years since have we not had a Black woman in the WNBA with an active signature shoe line? It’s not enough for a player to just have a colorway. The signature shoe and the marketing push behind it comes with social implications.

I’m asking those with the power to create change to value Black Women.