Is $25,000 Enough?

The Olympics have begun awarding cash prizes to the top three finishers in Medal Events.  The sum of $25,000 awaits each gold medal winner.  Is that enough, or is it too much?

Organized “amateur” sports such as college football or basketball, have long been exposed to the charge of “profiteering”.  These schools earn staggering amounts from ticket sales, television rights, and tournament/bowl games.  The question is how morally can schools earn all this money off the sweat of other backs and not share it?

The answer is always, “why these are amateurs and we do not want to corrupt them so early in life.  Maybe… But I wonder why so many freshman college athletes leave college sports and join the pros after only one year of college?

Another argument is that earnings from college sports like football and basketball subsidize all other sports.  Allegedly this allows more students to play sports than otherwise would be possible.  Hmmm.

Now the Olympics has awakened and realized it is also exploiting young athletes.  Long gone are the days of the pure amateur.  Almost all Olympians have sponsors who provide equipment and often “training money”.  Many Olympians receive prize money when entering popular races (which means these event are sponsored or have sold TV rights, or both).  It is simply time for the Olympics to pay for play.

The irony is that most Olympians are professional in every aspect that counts.  Some who are in high school or college worry about maintaining their NCAA status. There are special rules for them.   For others, the Olympics is their life.

It is not clear what the right approach might be.  For example, should all Olympians be paid like in a golf tournament with those that finish higher receiving more.  Should all Olympians, regardless of finish order, receive the same token payment?

The answer can be left to those involved.  What can’t be left to those involved is whether the enormous amounts of money earned from ticket sales, TV rights, and other promotional materials remain only with the Olympic organizing committee.


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