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Ashleigh Barty and Dylan Alcott’s Secret Weapon Is a Former Nike Marketing Exec

  • January 26, 2022

Tennis players and athletes in nearly every sport have been using sports psychologists and mind-set coaches for years. Never before has mental health been such a primary focus, especially in tennis, which lost one of its biggest stars, Naomi Osaka, for nearly half of 2021 as she dealt with psychological problems connected to the sport and her performance.

Crowe took a circuitous route to his role as a guru to some of the biggest names in sports. He worked as a marketing executive at Nike in the 1990s, trying to connect the stories of athletes to the industry behemoth and make piles of cash for both parties.

He worked closely with Australian athletes, including Cathy Freeman, an Olympic sprinter, on her campaigns ahead of the Games in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, but also with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. He became close with Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, who loves both tennis and Australia.

Eventually, Crowe realized it was far more important to athletes for them to truly understand who they were, their back stories and why they did what they did, rather than tying a drummed-up version of their narrative to a global corporation hoping to sell more sneakers and T-shirts.

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