There’s something about the winter games I don’t like. These are athletes of privilege. Not everyone who competes is rich, but no one competing is poor.
Kids can’t discover these sports unless they’re afforded the opportunity to try them. They’re not cheap. It’s a barrier to entry.
Please don’t misunderstand. We’re seeing terrific athletes. But there is a cost of this competition far beyond physical ability.
It’s really the “Olympics of the Best Athletes Who Can Afford It.”
6 thoughts on “The Olympics Of The Best Athletes Who Can Afford It”
I have to rarely disagree with you Geoff on this one. I can think of many rags to riches kids succeeding in their sports. One is Nick Goepper who worked odd jobs, dad was unemployed for 2 years and luckily got a scholarship for his gifted talent in slopestyle skiing and another girl in snowboarding who’s family sold their last few cows to get her there. Another athlete I can’t remember who (I think speed skating) went to a sponsor me website at the last minute asking strangers to fund airfare tickets so her parents could go watch. The parents were force to live in 2 separate states to help their daughter get the proper training. And let’s not forget Gabbie Douglas who took a village sort of speak to send her to Texas so she would get the best training. Shawn Johnson’s family mortgage their house twice for their daughter too. There are many more I can think of especially in the USA. I have to agree with you on certain sports in the Olympics like Equestrian where you end needing deep pockets to buy that special horse which averages around $250,000 and in some countries like South Korea the government funds short track which is like NASCAR to us. Also hockey and basketball are pro level too which gives the disadvantage to other countries. So many stories and so much emotion but I love it all 🙂
And I’ll disagree with Dorrie. She listed several cases where families had to make crazy sacrifices so their child could pursue his/her sport, which is exactly what Geoff is writing about. And what we never hear about is the other siblings left at home, short-changed, so one can pursue dreams.
It is unfortunate that aspiring athletes are not able to explore more Olympic style sports unless they have deep pockets, even in the beginning. Heck, getting someone on skis for the day is a once-a-year-event for many families, if you’re lucky, let alone be able to go frequently enough to develop a love for the sport. Forget about sledding, skeleton and freestyle events. Even team sports, started when young, are not free. The better the athlete gets, the more expensive it gets to continue competing and traveling to qualify. Equipment, travel, coaching…
I do not enjoy the Olympics as much as I used to and I’ve been thinking about why. One of them is the issue of money. I’m not sure the best athletes are competing, but the ones with the best sponsors are. Additionally, I don’t enjoy some of these crazy events that are judged subjectively. Freestyle skiing is not a sport in my eyes. Lastly, I think I would like watching more if I was more familiar with the athletes and the sports themselves. None of us are because viewing them in non-Olympic years isn’t a simple task.
I’ve said it a lot this Olympic season-I miss Wide World of Sports. My family never watched team sports (NFL, baseball, NBA), but we always watched Wide World of Sports. It would be nice to see non-traditional sports highlighted once a week. I’d even watch it in a prime time slot. Maybe there is something comparable on an upper tier sports network (but I don’t have those channels).
There was just a story about Emily Scott. She was not raised privilege. Her mother is in prison for the 2nd time and she at one point was on food stamps. I don’t think that is a privilege.
Elayne and Doreann – I probably went too far in saying “no one competing is poor.” However, there is a much larger percentage of privileged athletes than in any other competition I can think of. It makes me uneasy to think cash is a pre-qualification for entry.
Here’s part of what Wikipedia says about Emily Scott: “As a young girl, Scott made the Junior Olympics Gymnastics Team, but gave up the sport because it was too expensive for her family.”
Obviously she went back, but how many don’t or never begin at all?
You have a point Geoff on her but a true olympian has to give up a lot whether money or not to train and compete on the off season. It’s a balancing act. In Emily’s case she is a true olympian in my eyes because she found another path to go down to and didn’t totally give up. She could have gone down the path of her mother too with all the stress but didn’t. Another person that comes to mind that changed sports is Steven Holcomb who was an Alpine Skier to Bobsled driver and he is in the National Guard too.
In Nick Goepper’s case he worked odd jumps on his own for the money to train and his dad help him build obstacals in the backyard during the summers to continue to come up with new tricks. He has two sisters who were in gymnastics and they worked on the side too. He would ask the gymnastic’s trainer if he could use the trampoline on off time to work on his twisting jumping skills. The two sisters got hurt in their sport and decided to quit. They had a choice to continue but choose not to in support for Nick.
This sport was not even an olympic sport yet or wasn’t in thought until a few years ago so in Nick’s or any of the winners in this case loved the sport. The X-games is awesome and there are a lot of none olympic sports that are so cool to watch like sno-cross or snowmobiling jumping. I am a fan of the X-games but not a fan of any other sport like NBA, NFL or ABL. It’s so over rated. The super bowel is interesting but I don’t watch the game just the commercials.
Bottom line if you want something so bad, you will do almost anything to achieve it. Never say never… 🙂
I have a slightly different slant on all of these extreme sports. I wonder, had not medical insurance been developed and given, oh so freely, as a part of our employment,–would so many parents have been willing to let their kids develop these interests—or even have been so instrumental in starting them off at such early ages. I have always marvelled at those parents who skiied since childhood , who have had the ability to then teach their kids the sport. It sure would have been easier for me to grasp, vs learning when I was in my 20’s. Luckily, that was when one could go to Bosquet’s in Pittsfield and ski all day for $2.50 weekdays, $5 on weekends.I quit when the rates went up and I got married and had teen age stepkids to feed.
One of the commentators said during one of the slopeski events–those rails can be found in most city parks —-and I thought yeah—the kids with their skate boards who are using newly installed commemorative park benches, or the steps of the library. city churches, and what have you, to do their tricks –and have no concerns about the destruction of public property.
What I have seen this year in Olympic sports are downright scary–someone twittering from the hosp. bed about, it’s “only” a concussion–I’ll be back on the slopes tomorrow. No thoughts about who is going to care for me when I am in my 60’s and either crippled with arthritis or brain afflictions. There is a short span between allowing kids to be active vs being overly permissive with their choices. Gold Medals are nice—but not a necessity of life. End of my soapbox.!