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Olympics, Athletes and Money

Updated on August 12, 2012


For How Long?
For How Long? | Source


Today lots of questions are asked as to whether or not athletes should receive some of the very high salaries that they do.

Personally, I think that the amount of some of these salaries has gotten out of hand.

I know, people argue that they can only work for several years, after that they are not at their peak. Now I can understand that but why should they receive such a high amount?

They argue that the money they earn in those few short years has to last them the rest of their lives, why?

Yes, they had to work hard and it should be something that they are proud of and it should ensure that they have a little extra for the rest of their lives, but why enough that they can retire?

Young boys join the military and serve in war zones, sometimes for several years. What do they get? They represented their country, plus they put their lives on the line, not just their reputation or ego. What do they get in return?

If they are lucky and serve long enough, they may get a small pension. Is it enough to let them retire in luxury, for the rest of their lives? NO.

Another argument is that through them taking part in the sport, it provides entertainment to thousands of people.

This is also true but to see it live or at the venue itself, is far too expensive for the common man. The athlete’s salaries are one of the main factors that take the true, full enjoyment of the sport out of the realms of the average person.


These high salaries are not however paid in all sports. Mainly the high paying ones are Basketball, Football, Baseball, Golf and Tennis which means that most of the athletes competing in the Olympics are not in the realms of the very high paid. Many of these athletes, certainly in some countries, hardly get paid enough to live on, if anything at all.

The idea of getting paid for doing sport did however, start with the Olympics.

At first, when the Olympics started in 776 BC, it was totally amateur. At that time it would be the richer landowners who would take part in the sports. They could afford to take the time to train.

The Olympics were said to come from a sports meet that took place every four years in the village of Olympia, however during this period in Greece, three other games would take place. The Pythian would be held at Delphi every four years and every two years there would be the Nemean held at Nemea and the Isthmian held near Corinth.

In these games, the winners would only receive a reef of leaves but with it would also go pride from the village from which he came.

As time went on, because of the prestige that went with winning at the games, the landowners would allow any budding servant to train for participation in the games.

Eventually, payments came into play.

A winner in the games would receive a pension for life. This annual payment could be as much as 100 times that of a regular soldier of the time. These, of course were not official payments and would be put in the accounts as “rations” payments.

As always though, when money is involved, so is bribery. The first recorded instance of bribery was in 388 BC, at the 98th Olympics, when Eupolus, a boxer from Thessaly, paid three other boxers to throw their fights.


So, as we can see, history once again seems to repeat itself.

The high payments to successful athletes, is nothing new to this century.

Neither is bribery and corruption in sports.

These modern Olympics have started off as a genuine example to the young that perseverance and dedication to an activity you enjoy, can pay off.

It is also a great display of how countries of different race, color and religion, working together can produce far better spectacles than one country can alone.

I salute all those that took part, not only in the events but in the organization, nationally and internationally.

I do however feel that perhaps there could be some kind of “capping” on an athlete’s salary, after all we do not want history to once again repeat itself.

The original Olympics started to lose their true meaning and eventually go in to decline after 146 BC, when Greece came under Roman rule.

Under Roman rule the games became little more than mass entertainment for the personal gain of a few.

Let us hope these modern games and other sports do not suffer the same fate.


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