USA! USA! USA!
I believe it’s safe to say that Olympic fever has arrived. Skaters are spinning, boarders are flying, and curlers are … curlers are … curlers are curling?
Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, but while we are paying attention to all things Olympic, now is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on the steaming pile of garbage that is the USOC. Otherwise known as the United States Olympic Committee.
In a blockbuster piece of reporting by HBO’s Real Sports, we learn that while the people at the upper levels of the USOC routinely make over a million dollars per year, the actual Olympic athletes will get a check for between $1,500 – $3,000 for their efforts.
In an absolutely jaw dropping display of hypocrisy, the USOC has managed to free itself from virtually all forms of oversight while still retaining the media rights to every event you and I are watching on TV. That means they have complete control over the purse strings for everything Olympic in the United States. The USOC stands to make more than $800 million dollars in broadcast rights for the next few Olympics. How much of that money will trickle down to the actual athletes? Less than 7 percent.
USOC and athletes
Real Sports uncovered that the USOC has over half a billion dollars in the bank, and yet does not even pay the basic travel costs for US athletes to compete around the world.
You heard that right, when a struggling figure skater needs to go to the World Championships to qualify for the Olympics, the USOC brass gives them a pat on the head and USA warm up suit from one of their sponsors. Other elite athletes from around the world are flabbergasted by this.
If you are that same skater from Italy or Germany or virtually every other first world country, your basic travel expenses are covered in exchange for you representing your country in the Olympics. It’s a matter of national pride. Oh, and other countries don’t force their elite athletes to work day jobs just to make ends meet. Many of the athletes hoisting a medal for the USA are also plumbers or mechanics on the side.
Shame on the USOC for spending less than 7 percent of its budget on the athletes. It’s a disgrace that in the richest country in the world you are asking our finest to live below the poverty line while executives rake in lucrative salaries and flamboyant perks. There is no Olympics to sell without the athletes.
While we are all paying attention, let’s put pressure on the USOC to do the right thing.
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