Earlier this month, we went to the Big Event in Eugene where the athletes were chosen for the Big Event in Brazil. We cannot use the name of the Big Event in Brazil because we might get sued by the US Big Event Committee (USOC).
Incredibly, in Eugene, we had two athletes make the team: Kate Grace in the 800m, and Maria Michta in the 20K race walk. We have sponsored Kate since the 2012 Big Event in Eugene – which sent athletes to the Big Event in London. It’s been a long +4 year road. Like any relationship, we’ve leaned on each other through ups and downs, health and injury. We’ve become family, believing in and supporting her singular focus to make the Big Event Team. Additionally, Maria Elena Calle, Oiselle Volée turned Haute Volée competing for Ecuador, will be racing the Marathon at the Big Event!
On July 5th, the day after Kate made the 2016 Big Event Team, the USOC contacted us and demanded that we remove all social media and blog content (congratulatory messages, pictures, Instagram, Twitter, blog, etc) from our website and social media.
Patrick, Kate’s boyfriend summed it up well (read in full):
At Oiselle, we run our business like a family.
Our athletes are at the center of everything we do.
But the financials are real.
In our experience, it takes approximately $300K over a four year period to develop an athlete that can make the Big Event Team – and compete in the Global Competition with the Five Circles. Over that same period, the USOC/USATF contributed approximately 1% in reimbursable expenses.
In other words, the athletes are not being paid by the Big Event to make the Big Event Team. And the sponsors that have paid the athletes directly are being shut down at the moment the athlete reaches the Big Event Trials and beyond.
Going forward, we believe we are on one team. The Big Event Team for the USA.
And we believe that these amazing feats of human greatness cannot happen without support. We call on the IOC/USOC/USATF to either start paying the players, or allowing sponsor visibility during the Big Event Trials and the Big Event with the Five Circles. One of the two needs to happen.
For now, Oiselle stands by its athletes – but against Rule 40 (the blackout period from July 27th through August 24th that prohibits athletes and their sponsors from talking about each other in any form).
As fans, and the community, you are not restricted in any way. And so we encourage you, between now and through the Big Event with the Five Circles, to use the hashtag #freebird16 and tag @oiselle to support our athletes. And we encourage you to do the same for other brands and athletes. As Phoebe Wright said, “fans are the loophole.”
In the future, we will push for change. We want to see money from the millions the IOC/USOC/USATF are making off the image of these athletes – actually make it to the athletes’ pockets.
And our goal is to see Oiselle, and all supporters of world class athletes, be given a seat at the table that corresponds with the value we bring. Oiselle, along with dozens of other companies, are filling the ranks of the Big Event Team for USA.
Want to help share the love? Here's how you can support:
FLY WITH US: #freebird16
1. Use our fan-banners to show your support for our birds: Kate Grace, Maria Elena Calle and Maria Michta.
How: Download the banners by opening the link below and saving the image. Add to your Twitter and/or Facebook header.
2. Use hashtag #freebird16 to tweet/post, showing your support for the athletes.
How: share how they are inspiring your personal running goals and/or use the hashtag + @ their name to wish them good luck as they prepare for the Big Event! (Get inspired and see who's posting).
TAKE A STAND: #Rule40
Learn more about USOC censorships and stand with athletes against Rule 40: Birds Eye View: Rule 40 Explained