Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Athletic Shoes Poised to `Turn Pro'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Athletic Shoes Poised to `Turn Pro'

Article excerpt

WANT to know your daughter's chances for a career in professional sports?

Go to the mall.

The answer is at the athletic shoe store. Right now, sister, we hardly have a toehold in pro sports. But we're promised it will improve. My friend Ruth showed me what we were missing. She was shopping for athletic shoes at a mall. She tried on a white pair that looked good for nurses. Another pair had run-of-the-mill teal slashes. "These are boring," she said. "They look like something my mother wears." "They're athletic shoes," I shrugged. "What do you expect?" "Those," she said. And pointed to the men's shoe display. They were raw sex. Red shoes with black trim. Boldly slashed black-and-white shoes. All-black shoes for a Star Wars prince. Shoes stitched with loops, whorls and peacock fans. These were shoes for stars. The biggest names in sports were at men's feet: "Worn by Michael Jordan. Worn by Jerry Stackhouse." Little boys were trying on shoes worn by Kevin Garnett and Dennis Rodman. How many shoes were worn by women athletes? None. Not one pair was endorsed by a female athlete. In five mall stores around Washington, D.C., the closest thing we could find was a couple pairs of women's shoes that were recommended in a runners magazine. Big whoop. The men's athletic shoes looked arrogant and aggressive. The women's shoes looked pretty and polite. I could see them worn by nice women who didn't sweat much. Athletic shoes for women should make great strides soon, however, thanks to developments like the new women's pro basketball leagues. Big name-makers are signing up female basketball players, women's soccer stars and other female athletes for "signature shoes." Nike has "aggressively signed up women athletes including Sheryl Swoo pes and Lisa Leslie of the WNBA, and Dawn Staley of the ABL, the other basketball league," said Nike's Robin Carr. "We take exception to the idea that our shoes are dull. Our research told us that high school girls were buying shoes off the boys' wall b ecause they wanted a faster, more aggressive look. …

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