After her athletic peers were penalized for pursuing motherhood, Allyson faced a choice between her career and her family; a choice too many women have to make.
As she was renegotiating her contract with her then sponsor Nike, a 70 percent pay cut was offered. After all the medals. After all the records. After a decade of partnership.
Allyson asked Nike to provide her with protection against penalties tied to performance, that had no regard for the realities of childbirth. Allyson was offered protections, eventually, but her request for the same treatment for all women athletes was declined by her sponsor.
Allyson’s advocacy has changed the game. She called to attention the juxtaposition between the marketing campaigns (of equality, of moms-as-athletes) and the lived experience of being a sponsored athlete. As a direct result major sponsors have announced maternity protection and changed corporate policies, guaranteeing athletes’ pay and bonuses through, and after, pregnancy.
Following that victory, Allyson faced her next dilemma — what racing spikes was she to wear, as she pursued a place on her fifth Olympic team? In July of 2019, she became Athleta’s first-ever sponsored athlete. This was the first time she felt seen as more than an athlete. But Athleta didn’t make racing spikes for Olympic sprinters.
Alongside her brother, Wes, Allyson decided to found a brand. A brand to be the solution to their problem. A brand designed to embody the values they were hoping to see in others and a platform to take their message to the world. Saysh was born — to undermine inequality on behalf of all women. It starts here, keep going.