Next month the world will converge on Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. There was a time when the Olympics were a purely amateur event. However, the Olympics have changed. Today’s athletes are often paid for their talents. Some counties even pay their athletes for medals. I enjoy the games, but really don’t like that fact.
The Olympics are no longer about countries setting aside difference and competing in athletic events. They are no longer about the best amateur athletes competing agents each other. Sadly the Olympics are becoming a giant professional sports event. In an article found on financesonline.com one fact that supports my claim is the Russian Government is planning on paying its gold medal winners. The reported amount for a gold medal is 4 million rubles ($122,000).
Because we are a hockey site, let’s take a look at the Russian Olympic Hockey Team. There are 25 players on the roster that I found on wingingitinmotown.com, and of those players 18 play in the NHL. Not taking the other events in to consideration the Russian’s if they medal, and they are among the favorites to win the gold; will make a minim of $46,000 per player for Bronze, and a maximum of $122,000 per player adding up to $3,050,000 to be paid by the Russian Government for a gold medal.
Yes, it is true that many counties pay their athletes for medals ( investorplace.com has a list), and yes, I believe they deserve the same level of criticism. Maybe it is because I grew up hearing the epic stories of the 1980 USA Hockey team, or maybe it is because in professional sports dominated landscape I just wish for an event that is as much about the games, and countries taking part as it is about the people playing in the games. Watching a bunch of NHL, KHL or any other pro-leagues players skate just cheapens the victory for me.
It seems to me that there is no such thing as a true amateur event any more. It has become all about the money for the countries. The worst part is the athletes are caught in the middle.
On a lighter note I’d like to share a bunch of random facts about this years Winter Olympics.
Image Credit to: financesonline.com