Lyles keen to be a union leader for ath­letes!

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport -

Doha: Noah Lyles was talk­ing more like a labour or­gan­iser than the next Usain Bolt fol­low­ing his 200 me­tres win at the world cham­pi­onships, the Amer­i­can sprinter hint­ing he might be as likely to lead an ath­letes’ union as be the face of the sport. “I would love that (to lead an ath­letes’ union), I think about that con­stantly,” Lyles said. “I talk to a lot of peo­ple about that. It’s very hard to start now since I’m just try­ing to build my ca­reer but it is al­ways in the back of my head. I have ideas.”

Un­able to break free of its dop­ing past and no ob­vi­ous can­di­date to fill the void left by the re­tire­ment of charis­matic Ja­maican Usain Bolt, ath­let­ics is sorely in need of ideas and fresh think­ing if it is to re­main rel­e­vant. Union­is­ing is not a rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­cept. It pops up into the dis­cus­sion at al­most ev­ery world cham­pi­onships or Olympic Games.

I would love that (to lead an ath­letes’ union), I think about that con­stantly. I talk to a lot of peo­ple about that. It’s very hard to start now since I’m just try­ing to build my ca­reer but it is al­ways in the back of my head. I have ideas.”

How­ever, the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) with help from the sports­wear giants like Nike and Adi­das, who bankroll many ar­eas of the sport, have man­aged to main­tain the sta­tus quo. As for the ath­letes, al­most ev­ery­one agrees or­gan­is­ing is a great idea but no one quite seems to know how to get it done.

Track and field ath­letes are not alone in their hopes of earn­ing live­able wages and gain­ing a big­ger say in how their sport works.

In North Amer­ica some of the world’s best women’s ice hockey play­ers have union­ized (Pro­fes­sional Women’s Hockey Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion) and are ef­fec­tively on strike pledg­ing not to join any pro­fes­sional league un­til an eco­nom­i­cally vi­able op­tion emerges.

The US women’s soc­cer team has filed a law­suit against the United States Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion al­leg­ing they are con­sis­tently paid less than their male coun­ter­parts. Cal­i­for­nia last week signed a bill that cleared the way for col­lege ath­letes to profit from brand spon­sor­ships and en­dorse­ment deals.

With spon­sor­ship deals, ap­pear­ance money and other in­come spin­ning ven­tures, i nclud­ing rap­ping and mod­el­ling, t he 22-year-old Lyles will not have to won­der where his next meal and rent cheque is com­ing from. But for many of his fel­low ath­letes com­pet­ing in Doha, like Nor­we­gian dis­cus thrower Ola Stunes Isene who moved back to his par­ents’ home be­cause he could not make a liv­ing from the sport, the sit­u­a­tion is much more chal­leng­ing.

“I would def­i­nitely favour hav­ing more than one spon­sor, not nec­es­sar­ily Nike,” Ja­maican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce said. “I be­lieve the ath­letes should be paid more.”

LYLES

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