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The True Cost of the Olympics
By Erynn Porter
Recently I’ve tried to grasp the true cost of going to the Olympics, especially after hearing that the U.S. Women Gymnastics uniforms, which have real Swarovski crystals sewn in, cost up to 1,200 dollars apiece. My mind is blown. Are they amazing uniforms? Hell yeah! But that price. Ralph Lauren’s opening ceremony outfits also cost about $1,200 US dollars. The pants go for almost $300! The shirt, $90. There is nothing below 50 dollars. I wasn’t able to find out much about other uniforms, the media seems to be focused on the U.S. Gymnastics Team. Though the types of swimsuits that are worn at Rio can be around 300 to 500 dollars.
I then began to wonder who footed the bill. As a kid I thought each country provided the clothing, the transportation, and anything else the athletes might need. I figured they even covered the families’ trips because why wouldn’t they? I thought it was their reward for being awesome or how each country wanted to display its best, like kings with their champions to represent them in duels. I never really thought otherwise as I got older. I replaced countries with sponsors and rewards with endorsements but still someone else was always paying. It was never the athletes worry because I assumed with everything they had done it was covered.
Apparently I’m wrong.
Many athletes had to crowd fund their way to Rio. Yes, these grand Olympians had to use the same GoFundMe pages as us mere mortals. A hundred Olympians and Paralympians have had to set up campaigns. Why? Because despite my childhood logic the U.S. doesn’t provide government funding to the Olympic Committee, unlike other countries.
This is because of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act that was set in 1978. The Act allows the US Olympic Committee to hold exclusive control over the presentation of its athletes. So the USOC is responsible for fundraising. It appears give enough money to cover basics like airfare, lodgings, and food during the games. But it appears the cost of training, equipment, and common bills are what causes problems. Plus, less popular sports get less funding.
So if I have this right, the government doesn’t help pay for these Olympians to keep up with their proper training or to even get to the Olympics but they still get to claim them for their country. They still get to plaster their images places as long as the USOC is okay with it. Doesn’t that frustrate them? Doesn’t it make them angry? Many athletes are honored to represent their country, saying when asked there is no other choice but to say yes and scrape together what they can to make it happen. Shouldn’t their country help them? I don’t know if I would want to get taxed for the Olympics but it seems so unfair that everything falls to the athletes and their families. Maybe I’m sensitive because I just graduated college and now have to think of the cost of loans that my family and myself have taken out for the sake of higher education. For these Olympians, this is their higher education, medals are their degrees. I heard that raising an Olympic athlete can mean a six figure investment, maybe even a million-dollar investment. What happens when the games are over? What do these families go back to? What if they don’t win? Is an Olympic sized debt waiting for them?
Maybe some them are lucky to be wealthy or part of a wealthy family. But I don’t hear much about those athletes. I hear about the “all American” ones, the person that could be your neighbor, childhood friend, a classmate from school. How do they earn money? Endorsements obviously but again, what if no one wants them to endorse their product? Maybe they become coaches to help the next generation. What about the fact that a lot of young athletes are giving up the time to gain job experience to train? Again, I wonder what happens when it’s all over. The job market now seems to require a decade of experience, a Ph.D., and a kidney. I wonder what an Olympic medal could replace?
The Athletes do get bonuses for earning a medal. 25,000 for gold, 15,000 for silver, and 10,000 for bronze. Though it is counted as income therefore is taxed. They can lose up to 39% of their bonuses. So that probably doesn’t make a dent in the owed money. I have to admit I think it’s totally unfair that the country taxes the bonuses they choose to hand out.
Before the 2012 games Gabby Douglas’ mom filed for bankruptcy and Ryan Lochte’s family’s house was being foreclosed; this was happening just months before they won gold.
So while I watch these amazing specimens of human endurance and determination chase that world record, Olympic record, and that finish line, I’m going to marvel at how much they truly work to get there. Not just the training but the fundraising. It truly is flash of greatness because everything is going to be waiting for them at home. I’m going to think of their support system. The parents that go broke to support their kids. The fans backing their favorite athletes. The sponsors and endorsement givers. All these people who help make this possible for the athletes and the viewers. I would like to thank those people and athletes, I hope the medals are worth it. I really do.
#Real #Olympics #Rio2016 #Expensive #Money
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