When it comes to tapping into the power of how intersectional sports is, Wale Ogunleye has been at the forefront especially now as the Head of Sports and Entertainment at UBS, a global financial services company. In 2021, the former NFL player spoke with AfroTech and shared how he’s teaching financial literacy to today’s athletes. Now, Ogunleye recently hosted a fireside chat for UBS — along with Jane Schwartzberg — where he spoke with U.S. Olympian Allyson Felix.
When Felix made the daring move to depart from her Nike deal due to their lack of support for pregnant female athletes and new mothers, her leap of faith was a wake up call for action heard across the nation. The gold medalist’s courage and advocacy for women and motherhood is what specifically moved Ogunleye to feature her for UBS.
“The sports world intersects with corporate America and corporate America puts their limitations and marginalizes women and people from diverse backgrounds,” Ogunleye shared with AfroTech. “Women who start families and those who want to have children are penalized. They’re forced to choose between a personal life or a sponsorship. It’s not fair that corporate America has this idea that a woman should choose to have a family or career, not both.”
He added: “Allyson Felix could have solely focused on monetary gain, but instead, she chose to advocate for women and motherhood. She chose a harder route to go against a giant. She’s a role model to the world and that’s a big part of why I wanted to work with her.”
Allyson Felix Bares All
In spite of the hardships and pressures that Felix faced as a Black female athlete in the industry, her perseverance illustrated why she’s proclaimed as one of the greatest of all time. Her departure from Nike didn’t hold her down for long — in June 2021 she moved on to building her own athletic footwear, Saysh. As previously reported by AfroTech, Felix flexed with her shoe brand by rocking it for the 2021 Olympics — symbolizing her defying the odds in her own lane.
“I did have a little moment. When I crossed the finish line and I looked down at my spikes. These beautiful handcrafted Saysh spikes. And I was like, ‘I did this in my own shoes,'” Felix shared in the fireside chat.
Although that was a glorious moment of triumph for Felix, reaching it required her to know her worth. In finding confidence within herself with the help of her circle and family, she is continuing to lead as an inspiration for women. Ultimately, Felix hopes to keep being a source of empowerment, when asked by Ogunleye what her legacy will be.
“If you had asked me that some years ago my answer would have been the most medals, the fastest times, or world records,” she admitted. “Today, I hope that it will be something surrounding fighting for women. Changing the sport to be better than when I arrived. Continuing to always push for more.”
When Arts And Sports Collide
Along with the recent fireside chat with Felix, Ogunleye also brought his hosting talents to Art Basel in Miami, where he was immersed deeper into how the paths of artists and athletes are often very similar. The experience also shined a bigger light on how a lot of Black talent in the art space are underrepresented “similar to the financial industry, where lots of talent in the unserved communities of Black and brown communities are overlooked by the mainstream,” he said.
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC)
Throughout Ogunleye’s efforts that scale across sectors, at the center of it all is his overall mission to guide athletes that are following in his footsteps. As previously reported by AfroTech, UBS works together with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The partnership sparks his excitement for the future of the young athletes that he meets at events.
“99% of kids we speak to will not become pro athletes, so we go in with the process of changing someone’s life from a financial perspective,” he said. “The conversations with students at the universities are the starting steps to creating generational wealth. Black and brown communities are further behind than others, and this is the opportunity to get these communities involved with institutions such as UBS to make a difference. More voices are needed when the conversations arise as to why they need credit facilities and resources to help. I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s the most exciting part of my job at UBS to help others.”