Triathlon Magazine Canada
Motherhood G Sport
Maternity policies in sports have evolved quickly. Movement on the issue can be traced back to Olympic medalist and 10-time world champion track athlete Allyson Felix’s earth-shattering op-ed in The New York Times in May 2019, where she reported that her then-sponsor, Nike, proposed reducing her sponsorship agreement by 70 per cent during negotiations when she was pregnant. Immediately following the Felix editorial, big brands began writing maternity policies into their sponsorship contracts. Professional sports responded as well. The WNBA was first among women’s professional sports associations to craft a robust policy, which went into effect in 2020. It includes fully paid maternity leave, plus partial reimbursement for fertility support and adoption fees and a credit for childcare. The National Women’s Soccer League Players’ Association (United States) just ratified a collective bargaining agreement that includes up to six months paid leave. In the U.K., players in the 24 clubs in the Women’s Super League are entitled to 100 per cent of their pay for up to 14 weeks on maternity leave. Golf and tennis might parallel triathlon more closely, as individual sports dependent on maintaining rankings. Tennis stars Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka both watched their rankings evaporate after giving birth, forcing them to rebuild their positions from zero. Since then, the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) has ratified rules that protect a player’s ranking when she temporarily leaves the sport to have a child. The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) also freezes a player’s ranking for up to two years, but provides no financial support. The PTO policy may be the first that combines both financial support and rankings protection.