- Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is leaving athletic wear giant Nike to partner with Athleta, a women-centric brand she says aligns closely with her values.
- “Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I am grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” she said in a statement.
- As part of her deal with Athleta, Biles will have her own line of performance wear and Athleta will support the post-Olympics gymnastics tour she plans on starting herself.
- While Biles cited no ill-will towards Nike, the news follows years of criticism the brand has faced over its treatment of female athletes
Simone Biles Partners With Athleta
Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles confirmed Friday that she is parting ways with Nike to partner with Athleta, a women-centric apparel brand she says aligns closely with her values.
Nike is one of the biggest athletic brands in the world and signs some of the country’s top names in sports. Athleta is owned by GAP Inc., but is much smaller in comparison. Biles’ choice to move to a more compact brand in an effort to center her activism and platform is a notable one.
“Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I am grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” the gymnast said in a statement. “The opportunity to encourage young girls to reach their full potential and be a force for change is incredibly powerful.”
“Together, I believe we can help girls to confidently and passionately take on the world in their athletic endeavors and beyond.”
As part of her collaboration with the store, Biles will have her own line of performance wear. Athleta will also support the post-Olympics gymnastics tour she plans on starting herself.
When asked by The Wall Street Journal if she felt like she did not have the flexibility to start her own line at Nike, Biles said, “Not necessarily, but I also feel like Athleta is committed to diversity and inclusion, of all women, backgrounds, ages, sizes, abilities and races.”
Behind Biles’ Choice To Leave Nike
Biles also expressed no ill-will towards Nike and said it is a great place for women. Similarly, a Nike spokesperson gave a statement to The Wall Street Journal expressing support for the Olympian.
“Simone Biles is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best,” the statement said. “We will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes.”
By moving to Athleta, Biles now gets the chance to use her voice in conversations with women in the company’s community about what it means to be a female in the industry. She also gets to participate in the brand’s Power of She fund, which, according to its website, aims to “advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity” and “enable all girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life.”
“Now that I’m older and kind of in the world a little bit more, I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things,” she told The Journal. “So to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for…I just thought it was time for a change.”
“I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing,” she continued.
Not the First Woman To Dump Nike for Athleta
While Biles has not participated in these conversations herself, her decision comes after long-running criticism Nike has faced for the way it treats female athletes. In 2019, Olympic runner Allyson Felix penned an op-ed in The New York Times claiming that contract negotiations with Nike became difficult after her choice to start a family. She added that for female athletes, pregnancy can often be treated as a kiss of death.
She said that following her pregnancy, Nike wanted to pay her 70% less.
“I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth,” she wrote. “I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could? Nike declined.”
Nike ended up changing their maternity policy following backlash, but Felix added that her “disappointment is not just with Nike, but with how the sports apparel industry at large treats female athletes.”
Felix ended up moving to Athleta as well, which prides itself on empowering women. Now that it has nabbed two of the country’s top female Olympians, it can further that message.
“Athleta has a long history of building community for women and girls, and we are going to work together to develop programming focused on supporting and lifting up young women and girls,” Jana Henning, Athleta’s Chief Product Officer said to Forbes. “Our mission is to unlock the limitless potential of women and girls.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Forbes) (ESPN)
Britney Spears’ Attorney Files Petition To Oust Father as Conservator
Spears’ new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, said there are “serious questions” regarding “potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest [and] conservatorship abuse.”
Mathew Rosengart Petitions Court To Remove Jamie Spears
Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, filed a petition Monday to remove the singer’s father, Jamie Spears, as her financial conservator.
Jamie Spears has served as his daughter’s financial conservator for 13 years. In the filing, Rosengart said the elder Spears “profited handsomely” from the position. He asked that Jamie be replaced with a Certified Public Accountant named Jason Rubin, who Rosengart described as “objectively intelligent” and “highly qualified” for the job.
The petition is 120 pages long and contained scathing remarks about Jamie. Britney has made it clear she wants him removed from the conservatorship, which she wants to be terminated entirely. During a statement in June, she called the situation “abusive” and specifically condemned her father.
“He loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it,” she said.
Rosengart has promised to be a stronger advocate for Britney than her previous lawyer, Samuel Ingham, was. He seems to be following through on his word by challenging Jamie’s status as a conservator just weeks after being appointed Britney’s attorney.
“Serious questions abound concerning Mr. Spears’s potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest, conservatorship abuse and the evident dissipation of Ms. Spears’s fortune,” he wrote.
The petition claims that Jamie made at least $2.1 million from Britney’s residency in Las Vegas, snagging a 1.5% cut of gross revenues and merchandise. It also claims that he paid himself $16,000 a month from Britney’s estate, which is $2,000 more than he gave Britney. On top of that, Jamie reportedly took another $2,000 for business purposes.
Rosengart wrote that while it might be common for a manager or agent to make this kind of money, someone in Jamie’s position should not be.
“He is a conservator, and, as a conservator, his role is to be burdened by, rather than benefit from, the conservatorship.”
Britney’s Mother Speaks Out
Both Britney’s personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, and her mother, Lynne Spears, gave statements in the filings echoing the need for Jamie to be removed from his role. Montgomery emphasized that his departure was necessary for the singer’s welfare.
“It would be best for Ms. Spears’ well-being and mental health that her father stop acting as her conservator,’ she wrote.
Lynne did not hold back on criticizing Jamie, saying Britney’s relationship with her father has “dwindled to nothing but fear and hatred” because of the control he exerts over her. She also claimed that he relied on Britney’s house staff, medical aides, and security team to “inform on and report back to him each and every detail of every action” in his daughter’s life.
“Such scrutiny is exhausting and terrifying, like living in custody,” she said.
This petition does not terminate the conservatorship fully, but Rosengart said that could be something the court has to examine one day further down the line.
“There might well come a time when the court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety and whether — in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy and certain fundamental liberties — Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages or other legal action against him,” Rosengart wrote.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC News) (New York Times)
Simone Biles Withdraws, Naomi Osaka Ousted in Rough Day at Olympics. Both Cite Heavy Pressure To Perform
Biles pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final due to a medical issue while Osaka lost in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.
Team USA Takes Silver in Women’s Gymnastics
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles shocked the world Tuesday after pulling out of the women’s gymnastics team finals at the Tokyo Games due to a medical issue.
She left the competition area with a medical examiner after faltering during her vault performance, which was pretty out of character for Biles, who is the most decorated gymnast of all time. However, she later told NBC’s Today that her withdrawal was not due to a physical injury.
“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” she explained. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”
Biles said she isn’t sure whether she will compete Thursday in the individual all-around competition and is just going to “take it day by day.”
The gymnastics star later talked about not wanting to cost her team a medal or injure herself by performing her dangerous stunts in the wrong headspace.
“It’s just it’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it,” she said, according to The New York Times.
Biles has previously been pretty open about all the pressure she’s been feeling amid the Games, writing in an Instagram post on Sunday, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me, but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke.”
Russia went on to take gold at the competition while the U.S. took silver, ending more than a decade of American domination in the event. Still, it’s worth noting that Russia’s margin of victory proved no single mistake by the U.S. was to blame for their second-place finish.
According to The Times, it wasn’t just Jordan Chiles’ fall on floor or Biles’ weak vault. “It was a combination of those two mistakes plus Biles’s absence on the other apparatuses plus truly standout performances from Russia on three out of four events.”
Holding that same sentiment, many fans are defending Biles against anyone suggesting she was solely responsible for the team’s missed shot at first place, noting that the country’s strategy to win can’t just be based on expecting her to generate huge margins for them.
Tennis Star Speaks Out After Olympic Loss
Day four of the Games proved to be similarly rough on tennis star Naomi Osaka, who will leave Tokyo without a medal after losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.
Osaka, who represented Japan at the Games, faced high expectations to do well as she is the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s face of the Games.
“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” she said.
“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”
She later added, “I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure, so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”
Osaka has been open about her mental health struggles before, with her citing, among other things, the way speaking with reporters after matches create self-doubt, so one can only imagine what she was feeling with all of the eyes on her at such a huge international event.
Despite the surprising performances from Biles and Osaka, people all over the world are continuing to praise them for being trailblazers in their sports and for being so candid when it comes to topics like mental health.
Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”
The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.“
Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund
Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country.
The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States.
“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”
The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S. It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”
The Fight to End Cash Bail
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”
Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning.
The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.