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Open Heart, Open Mind
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Open Heart, Open Mind > Amateur vs. Professional Athletes

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message 1: by SCPL (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Clara likens being an Olympic athlete to being a starving artist (p. 132). Amateur athletes rely heavily on sponsors to support their endeavours.

What is your opinion on the idea that Olympic athletes should be amateur rather than professional? How is this idea undercut by the inclusion of professional athletes in sports like basketball?

message 2: by Marcella (new)

Marcella | 8 comments I find it really interesting how things have changed with who is admitted into the Olympics over the past few decades. In the early years of the Olympic Games, it was unheard of any professional athlete (ie. Anyone who had accepted money) to be able to compete. There was an interesting story about a man named Jim Thorpe who was stripped of his 1912 medals because he accepted some money for playing semi-pro basketball during his summers in college. (They were reinstated, but only 30 years after he died)
These days, however, people seem to be very much in favour of seeing superstar athletes compete in team sports like hockey, basketball and soccer - and others as well! And if it's what the people want, it's what the advertisers want; and if it's what the advertisers want, it's what the organizers want!
In doing this, however, we've lost the entire point of the Olympic Games. And that is to have amateurs competing for the love of sport....not the love of potential sponsorships.

message 3: by SCPL (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Thanks Marcella! You make some really good points.

I'm conflicted on this issue. I like the idea of the Olympics celebrating amateur sport but at the same time recognize that athletes rely on sponsors in order to compete full-time.

But. the inclusion of professional athletes can be frustrating in terms of showing the inequalities between different sports. A professional male hockey/basketball/soccer player earns far more than a weightlifter/fencer/wrestler.

Even looking at the difference between men's and women's ice hockey is quite telling, to use a Canadian example. The men have multi-million dollar contracts with the NHL and their ultimate goal is winning the Stanley Cup. The Olympics is a fantastic opportunity, sure, but not the focus of their careers. The women do not earn nearly as much and aside from a handful of superstars, many struggle to be an athlete full-time. The fact that you have athletes competing in similar events with vast income differences may reflect the issue of professional vs. amateur athletes. It may also reflect broader global issues but I may be getting too off-topic!


message 4: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Anne | 15 comments Raising the point of amateur and professional athletes is a good one.
That certainly has changed over the years.

The problems also brings into play the unlevel playing field of money in sport in general. "Have" countries have the advantage.
Countries that support their athletes through fully paid scholarships have an advantage. Training facilities make a difference.

Not to be cynical but money does matter. What if during an olympic year in order to qualify had to dedicate a full year at facilities that were equal. Money and a change of system would have to be involved and politics but what would some of the outcomes be if this happened?

Professional full time athletes would maybe not make such a commitment. I think the inclusion of the professional athletes like the golfers, basketball, and hockey players as an example would not be allowed to take a year to do this. Having them in the olympics makes the games make more money. And I guess that is what drives the games. For if they did not make money they would not be put on.... A slightly cynical view.

message 5: by SCPL (new) - added it

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Thanks for providing additional context to the discussion, Jo.

You're right, athletes arriving at the Games are not all at the same level in terms of their training, funding, and support. There are "haves" and "have nots" separating athletes from different countries and athletes competing in different sports.

I agree. I can't imagine that professional athletes would commit to such an idea for a year, especially when their regular competitions/events would be at stake.

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