Life as a working mother is a marathon, not a sprint — as one Olympic runner knows all too well.
Six-time gold medalist Allyson Felix is the proud mom of daughter Cammy, as well as a member of the team of athletes heading to Tokyo for the 2021 Summer Olympics later this month. She gets how impossible the juggling act can be.
And that’s why she’s teaming up with both the Women’s Sports Foundation and her sponsor, Gap’s Athleta, to give out $10,000-apiece childcare grants for professional athletes and moms who are traveling for their work. In all, $200,000 in grants will be awarded.
“It’s really hard to balance being a mom and a professional athlete,” Felix said to CNBC. “And the reality is that there’s a certain level of financial support and security that’s necessary to be able to do it.”
Felix certainly knows how it feels when that support is missing. Before working with Athleta, she’d been signed on with athletic giant Nike. But in a 2019 New York Times article, she disclosed that the company tried to reduce her pay by 70 percent because she was pregnant at the time.
“There has always been a silence and a fear surrounding motherhood in sports,” Felix was quoted as saying. “I remember feeling like I had to choose between this sport that I love and my family.”
And she doesn’t want other women to experience that conflict — including her daughter. “When I think about the world that Cammy will grow up in, I don’t want her — or any other woman or girl — to have to fight the battles that I fought,” she added.
Of the first nine grant recipients named, six are Tokyo-bound — and since athletes’ children won’t be allowed to join them, access to reliable childcare is critical to being able to participate.
Felix hopes this creates a ripple effect for working moms in other industries, because “it’s also not just in sports — it’s across the board.”