One of my favorite movies of all time is The First Olympics which documents the first modern games held in 1896. (Fun side-note – one of the stars is a very young David Caruso, preNYPD Blue and CSI Miami) Then there’s Chariots of Fire – with Sesame Street’s Chariots of Fur a very close second. Both movies stress the ideals of gentlemanly behavior that are an admirable part of the athlete’s make up.

I always thought the Olympic Athletes had to be amateurs, and in reading up on the subject, I learned that there were rules against competitors being paid for the sport. In fact, Jim Thorpe was disqualified after winning several medals during the 1912 Olympics when the IOC (International Olympic Committee) found out he had played semi-professional baseball before the start of the games. His metals were not restored until 1983. And if an athlete was earning money from endorsements, that money was to be put into a trust until after he/she was finished competing.

All this changed in the 1970’s. There were complaints of how “the self-financed amateurs of Western countries often were no match for the state-sponsored “full-time amateurs” of Eastern bloc countries.” (Wikipedia) I’m sure that there are many nations that can claim their athletes are amateurs, not being paid anything by their home countries. Most of them are being paid as professionals by the United States.

Does it matter to you whether Olympic hopefuls get paid for their sport? Other than to feel abject jealousy that these kids get to be paid for something they love doing. Or do you root for everyone from the US? Or do you care one way or another who wins, you’re just not that into the Olympics? I choose not to watch the events that I know are overrun with the pros. I personally don’t think the paid athletes we choose to play for the US are particularly gentlemanly, and I think that shows our overwhelming desire to win at all costs, rather than maintaining the Olympic Ideal. (There are times when I also think I may have been born into the wrong century, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Instead, I root for the young kids who are hopefully still competing for the love of the sport rather than the materialistic gains that come later. And I do cheer for Michael Phelps, even though he’s getting the endorsements, but he’s still not getting paid to swim, is he? (That’s an actual question, not me trying to be bitchy!) Thank god the games fall during the summer so I don’t have to go through this debate about my beloved baseball players.

2 Responses to “OLYMPIC ATHLETES”

  1. painted maypole Says:

    i rarely watch the olympics, but I do miss that it’s not all amateurs (although I get some of the arguments about why they changed)

  2. amanda Says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Olympics. I did miss the synchronized diving, though searching for a missing book…

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