I'd Compete in The Olympics but I have to Work

However sinicle this may seem, no matter how athletically talented I might be, I can’t afford to take 4-yrs off to train for the Olympics. Not now, not when I was a gifted teenage athlete or as a young adult. In fact, after spending 4-years in a professional sport around amazing atheletes and coaches, I do not know one person who has been an Olympic participant. Obviously, these olympians are of the wealthy or affluent population. If they are from the average social-economical arena, they are subsidized inorder to support themselves. I can relate more commonly to the Special Olympics. These participants have trained too, I doubt for four years and beyond being wealthy or affluent, they wear their disablilty on their sleeve and don’t hide the fact that “someone” is supporting them.

You Can Move me to IMHO now, I appologize.

I’m… not really sure what we’re supposed to discuss here.

I’d compete in the Olympics, except for the fact that I absolutely unequivocally suck at sports. A minor problem, I know, but…

I think Mr. Roboto is wondering how all these olympic atheletes get all the money to train, eat, and live, since most are not professionals in their sport. Something I wonder as well. Are there grant programs? Do they all come from rich families? If there is someone giving them money to train and whatnot, how do the decide who to give it to? I mean, you would think you would have to give it to several people, knowing some won’t make the olympic cut, so what’s the qualifier for getting the support?


Sorry, that was bugging me. Carry on.

I’d compete in the Olympics, if I didn’t hate every conceivable form of physical exertion.

But they look for sponsors, and the sponsor pays for stuff. You say you are surrounded by talented athletes but are they Olympic material? Can they run 100m in 10 seconds? Etc.

I’ve known alot of guys who can really burn, it just never occurred to me to ask them if they ever considered competing in the Olympics. My feeling is that goals of the lower to the middle class is to pursue wealth first and fame second. If I am already wealthy and money is no object, why not become famous by throwing a Javelin?

I went to high school with the brother of Steve Lundquist, the Olympic swimmer. His parents supported him throughout his training, and then he missed the first Olympics he was going to compete in due to Carter’s boycotting of the Olympics that year.

In Australia, talented youngsters are picked up by first their state Institute of Sport, then the AIS who fund their training and development to get them to the pinnacle of their sport/s. Along the way, if they are special (and attractive) enough, they can also get sponsorship from the corporate sector. In other words, an athletes original socio-economic status shouldn’t prevent them from attaining Olympic standard.

This is proving to be a wee bit controversial here, bacause while *athletes * are fully-supported by grants from the taxpayer, a person going to uni will have to pay-back his/her education loan up front, or when their earnings hit around $35k (AUD) on the grounds that they are now reaping the benefits of the taxpayers generosity.

There is no such arrangement for athletes, many of whom are earning mega-millions per annum. Their funding comes no strings attached.

Well, it often seems that a lot of the track and field competitors are college students. Surely that makes it a lot easier (you have the university’s support, etc.) Often athletes get local sponsors (I don’t know about the Olympics - I’m thinking about small golf tournaments here, and I’d like to thank Barney’s Rib Shack…) which isn’t at all like having Nike shovel cash at you but could surely help. Also, I’ve met people who have taken months off from work to train for a triathalon or something.

And I’m a wuss-ass non-athlete and I’ve known several Olympians and almost-Olympians. To my knowledge they were all solidly middle class.

ABC had a piece on a pair of ice dancers. Thay have some sort of jobs, plus they occasionally coach. They also sell used costumes. They racked up $20,000 in credit card debt last year.

video 9about 2 minutes)


I know a couple of ex-National rowing team members (the national team is the first step to the Olympics) and none of them have been wealthy. They grew up middle class but then they worked their butts off trying to juggle jobs and training. Most of them did it just after college when they didn’t mind living with five room-mates, being constantly broke, and putting their lives on hold.

Another woman I know is currently working towards the national team and she’s having a tough time. She’s had a couple of fund raisers and she’s really, really lucky that she found an extrememly supportive boyfriend/fiance. In fact, I think the significant other aspect is kinda of overlooked. I know guys who’ve had to stop training when they broke up with their girlfriends and had to get jobs with more hours.

Also, you might notice during the life-story recaps on TV that a lot of atheletes work for Home Depot. Home Depot has a really supportive “Olympic athelete-in-training” program where you work part-time in the stores and they’ll pay you full-time. Not sure how you get in the program, I think you have to have some prominence on the national level first.

The gal who taught my boys to swim works out & competes with a bunch of Olympic swimmers. She herself just missed making the cut last time. They are uniformly young, living with their parents and going to school.

No magic or big money- just a lot of time in the pool.

That is so cool.

I don’t know whether there is a similar thing in the US but almost half of the German athletes in the current winter Olympics are soldiers. After their regular military service top level athletes can volunteer for additional time. They are officially soldiers and are paid full time, but they will only spend about 30% of their time on normal military duties, the during the rest they are training.

A few hundred million people in the USA, of whom only a few thousand have been Olympians. No surprise that you do not know any Olympians.

There are socio-ecomomic barriers to participation in high end sport, but those barriers are usually found very early on in life. Kids that are not exposed to a sport will never take it up.

At the other end of the pipe, when a young adult is training and competing at a very high level, there are significant costs, but sport organizing bodies (sometimes in conjunction with governments) usually make up the gap between what is required and what the athlete can provide.

Usually, it takes absolute committment and a great deal of sacrifice to make it to the very top. Athletes who have that level of committment will not let economics stand in the way, nor will their families, their communities, and their sports let economics stand in the way.

Past-National Ski Team Member
Telemark Canada

I’ve known two Olympians that I can think of off the top of my head. Neither one was wealthy. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know either one of them well enough to find out how they financed their Olympic adventures. Okay, one of them was on active duty in the Army and I believe they had her in a special program while she had the opportunity to participate.

The other one was from a small island nation in the Caribbean and I believe his country and/or a sporting good’s manufacturer financed him.

For some sports the equipment is not expensive, the training is free, and the participant is such an aficionado of the sport that he’d be spending all his free time doing it, anyway.

Living In Colorado, which is the epicenter of the U.S. ski teams pretty much, you get a view into things. I used to ski a lot as a kid, and was damn good, but not great. A fair number of my friends were great, and a few were asked to try out for the kids national teams, to be groomed for years for potential world class competition. But every one of them had parents that said no, because they just couldn’t afford the money and time it took to support the teams. The ones on the teams were typically from rich families, and wern’t as good as a lot of the others.

The girl I dated in high school was a fantastic swimmer. She won a Florida state title in her sophomore year, then moved to Gainesville to train with the UF swim team (she was also pretty and very smart, don’t you just hate that). She swam with several Olympians and even dumped me for one* (bastard!) but never even came close to making the Olympics. Her little sister was an even better swimmer but as best as I recall only came in the top ten finishers. They both trained a ton. Their family was not wealthy, although certainly not poor. I think between their obvious talent and family making some sacrifices they were able to train almost full time. But frankly they just weren’t good enough. There are elite athletes and then there are the very, very best athletes. There are almost 300 million people in this country. The odds of actually knowing one of the relatively few people who win or even compete in the Olympics is pretty small.

*I’m fairly sure he made the Olympics, but it’s been a long while and he could have just been a different guy who swam for a very good Uni team.

My dad saw a short bit during the Olympic coverage of one of the ski barns. There were 30 pairs of skis in it, belonging to two US skiers. They cost $8000 per pair, and there were 30 pairs of back-up skis in the next barn, just in case.

$100,000 worth of skis. Yeah, I think if you’re in an “equipment-heavy” sport it gets pretty pricey…

Nancy Kerrigan, the skater, hails from Stoneham, MA. She was competing when I was living in the next town over. Stoneham is not exactly a wealthy town although not a slum), so Nancy certainly wasn’t a little rich girl going for glory. She actually worked out on facilities in town, I understand. I have no doubt that she was heavily supported by sponsors.