Monday, August 8, 2016

More Gold For the Rich

You know who must really hate the Olympics?  Bernie Sanders and all of his followers.  It's not really the those who can soar the highest, run the fastest or jump the farthest that win the gold--it's those who can afford to play the game that win.

The addition of professional athletes to the Olympics forever changed the course of many sports.  Men's basketball is now the sole domain of multi-millionaires--as is men's hockey in the Winter Games.  All of the tennis and golf competitors are pros with huge career earnings.  Track stars and swimmers can also make a pretty good living on the pro circuits.

But being rich is a big advantage in the so-called "collegiate sports" as well.  The difference between making the Olympics and being just good enough to make amateur squads is often high-priced coaching, training methods and equipment.  Wouldn't you like to know how much the parents of Michael Phelps spent on renting pool time, traveling to swim with top-level trainers and to compete in the types of competitions that get you noticed by national federations?  Or how much was spent to get Simone Biles to the point where she can be considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time?  Maybe we can just ask the parents of all those kids that didn't have the talent to go along with mom and dad's deep pockets (or huge debts) to get to Rio.

And then some sports still exist simply to give the well-to-do a chance to achieve Olympic glory due almost exclusively to their means.  In watching the opening ceremonies on Friday night, you may have noticed some older folks walking amongst the athletes.  You may have assumed they were Olympic federation officials or maybe coaches.  But many of them are "athletes" in sports like equestrian and sailing (I've always thought that the equestrian "athletes" should have to ride their horses into the stadium).  Not a lot of "going from the streets to the Olympic team" stories for NBC to warm your heart with while showing tape-delayed, prime time coverage in those sports.  "For Tamika Lewis, her love of horses came from watching mounted police try to break up riots in her Baltimore neighborhood....."

Those feeling the Bern could start their own "Socialist Olympics" where the rich kids who win medals are forced to give them to the athletes that couldn't buy the best training in the world.  Or to those who didn't even bother to get off the couch and try.

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