Some Olympic Thoughts

My position on NBA players and the Olympics has not changed since I first wrote about it nearly 8 years ago. It was stupid then. It has not gotten any smarter.

The following is an article put together by Brett Morris that provides an additional perspective and some more details that to me, re-enforce my position.

### When the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade said he thought “guys should be compensated” for participating in this Summer’s Olympics, he received a great deal of public backlash for being “un-American,” and “selfish,” from all walks of life — military personnel, politicians and the average sports fan.

More interesting though was a group that kept quiet on the issue — other “Olympic sport” athletes.

I waited all week for a groundswell of support for Wade’s comments from the likes of swimmers, gymnasts, pole vaulters, etc. Not because they think Wade could use the money, but they themselves could.

Not a whimper.

Unlike Wade, maybe other Olympic sport athletes just don’t understand one fact: The Olympics are a business, plain and simple. A tax-free juggernaut called the International Olympic Committee that generates revenues, on average, of over $1.4 billion a year. In fact, the IOC’s 2010 tax return shows a $1.4 billion net balance — as in cash in the bank.

And if Wade, and other Olympians don’t ask for and get a share, then who does? Answer: A handful of unaccountable, Switzerland-based bureaucrats hiding behind the veil of so-called “Olympism.”

When Wade recanted his comments the next day, you could almost hear the sigh of relief halfway around the world from Jacques Rogge, the head of the IOC and his secret-ballot-elected, 15-member Executive Board. (Actually, it probably wasn’t a sigh of relief, but a toast to “fooling them again” with ridiculously expensive champagne in a five-star hotel suite overlooking a soon-to-be-bankrupt future host city).

Drawing attention to paying/supporting athletes is the last thing the IOC wants in an Olympic year.

Why? Because most Olympic sport athletes are severely underpaid — if at all. For every Usain Bolt who makes millions in endorsements and appearance fees (none from the IOC, however), there’s hundreds of elite athletes making ends meet just so they can train.

Yes, the United States Olympic Committee will pay $25 thousand for a gold medal and some sports national governing bodies will add more (US Swimming gives $75 thousand per gold medal). And select U.S. athletes receive training stipends (usually based on need) and Elite Athlete Health Insurance to cover medical costs.

But those amounts pale in comparison to the revenues earned from their talents — especially if you’re a U.S. athlete. For the 2005-08 Quadrennium, revenue from U.S. only broadcast rights netted the IOC over $625 million, annually. And U.S. based corporate sponsors contributed over $120 million, annually, to the IOC.

But the greater issue is that there’s not much they can do about it. The IOC is a monopoly.

Athletes in “non-pro league sports,” swimming, figure skating, track and field, etc., have only one option to be truly considered the best in the world — win an Olympic medal.

And unfortunately, that option requires athletes to be the integral part in the most inefficient, dysfunctional, dated and corrupt system in sports — the IOC and their shady web of federations, committees and governing bodies.

In fact, in the United States, the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act grants legal monopoly status to the USOC. Any international sports event in the U.S. that has an Olympic affiliation must receive the blessing of the USOC and will also be required to pay a substantial sanctioning fee.

And with a monopoly always comes corruption. Since the most public Olympic scandal in Salt Lake City in 2002, other Olympic corruption cases have been well-documented and seem to have gotten worse. In March, the so-called “most powerful Olympic leader in the Western World,” Mario Vazquez Rana, resigned from the IOC’s executive board citing fellow IOC members as having “shady alliances,” “questionable procedures,” and a “lack of ethics and principles.”

Most national governing bodies have athletes sign a “code of conduct” where they commit to being an “ambassador … for the Olympic Movement.” So when someone like Wade, who could probably care less about a code of conduct and would never be disciplined for violating it, speaks out, you’d think others would jump to support him.

I don’t want to sound un-American as I have just as much fun and pride as most when we get the opportunity to chant U-S-A! U-S-A! But I also know that feel of nationalism wouldn’t change a bit if the athletes were getting paid a decent amount of money.

In fact, what could be more American than getting paid a fair share for hard work

72 thoughts on “Some Olympic Thoughts

  1. Pingback: Olympic Athletes, Patriotism, and Profiteering

  2. I am on the US Snowboard team and have applied for food stamps. I have proven myself time and time again…
    I don’t want to put a sob-story because this is the life I chose. But risking life and limb and currently recovering from a torn achilles is tough. I could get a real job, but then I kiss my career good bye.

    http://www.teamcheever.net

    Comment by Jonathan Cheever -

  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. Have a look at this documentary made by one Olympian (me) and his brother.

    http://www.tylerjewell.com/adp.html

    I have lived this and as an Olympian it is hard enough getting there never mind having to fight the machine.

    Comment by Tyler Jewell -

  4. Mark, I have to agree with everything you’re saying. One thing you didn’t mention, is the fact that sites like http://www.stubhub.com and http://www.seatcrunch.com make money, so why shouldn’t the athletes? You have a vested interest in your players, why should they risk injury? I get it, its good to be “American”, but really….

    Comment by Andrew Powell-Morse (@Andrewpomo) -

  5. Pingback: The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better … |

  6. As someone else pointed out, the Olympics used to be amateurs-only. Considering the amount of time and money athletes spend training, I think some compensation for those that qualify is called for.

    However, I’d personally like to see the most of the Olympics proceeds go to the cities that host the games. The money could be spent on infrastructure and such. Additionally, some of the money could be spent on local athletic (social) programs.

    Comment by Lance Thornblad -

  7. Very well spoken

    Comment by Zach Smith (@Zach16Smith) -

  8. It will be interesting to see how savvy & entrepreneurial athletes leverage social media to better monetize their respective opportunities during the summer games. As a former US Olympic team member (swimming ’92), I see a tremendous amount of opportunity for those athletes who aggressively take advantage of the “Olympic Platform” to grow & monetize their respective brands. Basic tools such as Facebook & Twitter create the “media outlets” that were clearly not as widely adopted nor relevant during the 2004 or even 2008 games. Throw on some innovative new social commerce technology like Cinsay (www.cinsay.com) and you have the potential to dramatically expand the consumer spend pie for the more savvy Olympians. I don’t blame Dwayne Wade for “the ask, but would suggest that athletes get creative and leverage the available technology to truly test “what the market will bear!

    Comment by Sean Killion -

  9. I have to disagree …
    Although the IOC is a monopoly and is corrupt, that is a red herring.

    The reality is that most olympic sports only have a significant audience once every 4 years. There athletes would be getting paid if their sports generated any real draw that could be monetized. While I respect the extreme dedication and hard work that it takes to be an olympic athlete in any event, that isn’t necessarily worth any money.

    Imagine if the IOC did pay olympic athletes. How would the money be allocated? Would competitors in the most popular events get paid more, or would every event get the same payout? If the former, you end up with basically the same problem, where most athletes get very little and a few get nearly all the money. If the latter, you can’t really justify it economic terms, as there are a lot of “peripheral” events that could be dropped without diminishing the popularity of the olympics at all.

    My point is that if you use a market based argument, the athletes are pretty much getting paid what they are worth already.

    Comment by jlai24 -

  10. Just wanted to point out that the “most powerful” Olympic bureaucrat is from Mexico. I live in Bogota, Colombia and “shady alliances, questionable procedures, and a lack of ethics and principles” are EXACTLY how Latin American governments are run. If it was too much for one of their own, it must be REAL BAD!

    I agree it’d be more American to pay them, too

    Comment by parkermocci -

  11. Very interesting… It’s sad but true. What happens when the athlete’s who get paid millions stop participating in Olympic sports??? It makes me think about the NBA Dunk contest. Growing up that was one of the most anticipated and exciting parts of the NBA. Now the best don’t participate. It’s sad and I’d hate to see that happen to the Olympics.

    Comment by Jason LaBaw -

  12. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on how we’ve been fooled by others who take advantage of our emotions to sell us something. There is a guy from Turkey who sells “US Navy SEAL” shirts and products at usnavyseals(dot)com to take advantage of our patriotism and this guy is probably not even a US citizen! The IOC similarly has us fooled into thinking that we are being patriotic by urging our countries to participate in the Olympics for free while they bank billions of dollars tax free. This post has really opened my eyes to what a racket the IOC has going. Thanks for a great post, Mark.

    Comment by rkim777 -

  13. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In 33 years of watching sporting events of all stripes,

    I have never seen the fans in the stands
    Wearing the same colors as the other team.

    5 White Jerseys in a SEA of BLUE

    Mark, That is a FAIL of EPIC PORPORTIONS

    The hang dog look on the bench proves it.

    I have been a MAVS fan since DAY 1 when they beat SA

    Comment by Steve Cooksey -

  14. Athlete compensation will improve the Olympics. Many great athletes cannot afford to compete because of financial obstacle. Some Asian countries can only send their limited number of athletes because they cannot afford to send all of the needed athletes.

    Plain and simple: Compensation would result to more athletes competing, which means better competition.

    Comment by Marlon Ribunal -

  15. I just returned to Dallas from a sports event I help conduct in the West Indies. I was actually asked last night at the reception why Mark had not shown interested in being involved in the Olympic’s biggest sport, track & field. I mentioned I could not speak for Mark having only met him once. They even pressed why I had never tried to get him engaged.
    The moral here is Mark has transcended basketball a long time ago…..

    Comment by Troy James -

  16. mark u didn’t mention the ncaa

    Comment by Anton Chan -

  17. Another sad reminder of how everything has become commodified so that it can become monetized. The Olympics isn’t the only great tradition of the Greeks that is being turned into a business, look at the Academy for another great, yet sad example.

    Comment by Ken Lewis -

  18. Pingback: Links of the week: Likeappella, the new Lincoln MKZ, a Hippo table for Kaitlyn to export, cooking techniques, and more « KU Says

  19. “In fact, what could be more American than getting paid a fair share for hard work?” Yowza! Perhaps the best conclusions I’ve ever read all day.

    Comment by John Park (@pgiselfdirected) -

  20. I find it a bit perplexing that there is substantial prize money every year at the track and field world championships (over USD 7 million spread among the top eight finishers in every event), but the Olympics offers zero prize money for athletes despite drawing larger crowds, larger sponsors, and bigger TV contracts. Some will surely turn a good performance into a payout from sponsors or the national federation. But this is not guaranteed. A good grand prix meet can net top athletes tens of thousands more than the Olympics. Athletes will still compete for the honor of being the best in their sport, but something is broken with a system where all the money is spent on infrastructure and bureaucracies rather than making its way down to the actual entertainers (i.e. the athletes). In this way, Dwayne made a very apt comparison between the Olympics and NCAA systems.

    Comment by Martin Bingisser (@bingisser) -

  21. The majority of all Olympic event tickets are given to the Kofi Annan type of people and their shady friends for free!

    Comment by kp (@Clusterrail) -

  22. And the NCAA is a billion dollar monopoly in which the student athletes don’t get their fair share.

    Comment by Chad Hensley -

  23. um, perhaps because your employees would not be able to buy much of anything, meaning your fellow business owners would look at your company with contempt because your employees can’t afford their products, and that’s just for starters

    Comment by 4jeans -

  24. wow – never really thought of this. I guess like would be like having the NBA where they make money off merchandise, ticket sales, etc and not having to pay the players a dime. Someone is getting rich off the Olympics.

    Comment by dolanswelding -

  25. Pingback: Link Farm: April 26 – Hockey Shouldn’t Go Into June Anyhow Edition « Y42K?

  26. There is one organization that resists the IOC. That’s FIFA. Not sure what that says about FIFA…

    Comment by larryang -

  27. Hare is my two cents worth

    I agree that $1.4 Billion is a big number but after doing some research and digging in to where the money really goes I am stunned over the fact that Dwayne even would consider such statement.

    Here is why:
    If you Google Dwayne’s salary: Best guess for Dwyane Wade Salary is US$ 15.7 Million (2012)
    Total Administration cost for ALL the NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES $13 Million.
    Total Salary cost for everyone involved in the 2010 olympics (including the committe) was $55 Million.

    The rest of the $1.4 Billion is used to foster these athletes around the world and creating one of the most anticipated event in the world.

    In my opinion this is a fair setup.

    Here is the full report http://www.olympic.org/Documents/Reports/EN/IOC-Interim-Report-2009-2010.pdf

    Comment by Alexander Wallin -

  28. What’s wrong with paying your “employees” as little as possible? If I could pay my employees one cent per hour, hell yeah I would!

    Comment by Stately White -

    • um, perhaps because your employees would not be able to buy much of anything, meaning your fellow business owners would look at your company with contempt because your employees can’t afford their products, and that’s just for starters.

      You’d probably have a work area full of head lice since your employees would be scavenging all over for discarded couches and mattresses.

      The products you created would probably have to be quarantined as well.

      Mind telling us what you make so we can AVOID them? (or were you being sarcastic and it didn’t translate well because this is the internet).

      Comment by alexlogic -

  29. Makes for a great story, Olympians overcoming the odds and themselves, motivates us to keep going in life. The whole purpose of the Olympics, humans overcoming all odds, becoming the best that they can be. Ultimately isn’t that what the NBA is already doing? America no longer needs the Olympics, we have our own olympics and don’t need anybody else. An American winning the Gold medal doesn’t mean America can defeat those other countries in a war, economically, in education, in medicine, and so on. All the Olympics is, seriously, just another opportunity for an entire team to die when one plane crashes while circling the globe. It’s scary enough when they constantly are on the road or in planes flying within their own countries. Give’em a break. Enjoy their life stories, there’s Billions of them, right within the NBA. No need for the Olympics anymore, Greece burned itself just a few months ago remember? And I think Rome basically errased them a long, long time ago. Now we use gladiators. And lions! And thanks to Hollywood and the internet we can compete and kill each other without anybody dying! It’s awesome! I get eaten by aliens every day online and am still alive. And I play in the NBA and I’m a Rock Star! I shouldn’t say this, but sports itself is highly over-rated but humans need a hobby to stay healthy and maintain proper balance in their lives. I think they’re over doing it on sports but that’s an individual choice. What would life be without Michael Jordan? Exactly. Oh, yes he’s an Olympian, but we already knew that long before he ever went to the Olympics. His whole Olympic team was just there to humor and flatter the international community, because back home, everybody already revered them as Olympians. -Ben (AnaEzine)

    Comment by Ben Arnold -

  30. Mark you are correct and wrong:

    You are Correct – The IOC is corrupt and exploiting willing volunteers (the athletes) to make money. I don’t see much of a difference between the IOC and the NCAA. Both organizations make money off of willing volunteers – the athletes.

    You are Incorrect – The athletes should not be paid. If an organization is going to take advantage of my free labor, and I can not find a way to benefit from the organization, then it is my personal responsibility to not participate. That is what capitalism is all about. No American is forced to participate. The only way to end the IOC’s corruption is to make their product worthless. So I encourage athletes to find a different venue to display their talents. Wade’s argument is flawed at face value because he can benefit financially from marketing his participation in the Olympics (or he should fire his publicist).

    You are Correct – As an NBA owner you have nothing to gain from NBA players playing in the Olympics. Therefore according to capitalism – you should do everything possible to stop your employees (yes that’s all they are at face value) from playing. Your assets decrease in value by playing.

    98% of people involved in sports do it because they love it. I’m talking about all the kids that play and parents that coach that never see a dime for the hours they put in. The do it because they love to compete at their sport. That should be the only reason an athlete participates in the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming that Wade doesn’t love basketball. I bet he loves it more then anything, but we all need a break. Heck I love wakeboarding, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it 12 months a year. Taking time off refreshes my love.

    From a business perspective for athletes, counting on the Olympics to make money is foolishness – the probability is a waste of time (which is money invested). You probably have a better chance playing the lottery. What should happen to the majority of athletes that pursue making the Olympics and fall short? Should they also get paid for their time and effort?

    Sorry I wrote so much. Great blog!

    Comment by Matthew Stamerjohn -

  31. Bravo Mark Cuban. It reminds me of Steve Prefontaine in the movie “Without Limits.” In the movie and in real life, Prefontaine began a protracted fight with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which demanded that athletes who wanted to remain “amateur” for the Olympics not be paid for appearances in track meets. Some viewed this arrangement as unfair, because the participants drew large crowds that generated millions of dollars in revenue, with the athletes being forced to shoulder the burden of all their own expenses without assistance. At the time, the AAU was rescinding athletes’ amateur status if they were endorsed in any way. Because Prefontaine was accepting free clothes and footwear from Adidas, he was subject to the AAU’s ruling. . If you have not seen the movie, great flick. Pre was bold enough to fight the AAU and won. We need US athletes including D. Wade to continue the fight against the corrupt IOC.

    Comment by Doug Horn -

  32. Wow, I knew they were big but I had no idea. Imagine that – paying these people for their hard work. Sure, I don’t think they should earn NBA salaries for it, but if all players across all sports received $100k or some amount, that would be a huge deal to many athletes who struggle to get by while training for years. Most never get endorsements or go further than the Olympics, so why not reward them for their hard work?

    Comment by Chris Ulrich -

  33. i dont understand,….

    Comment by Iqbal Ajie -

  34. Pingback: Marc Cuban on Olympic Athletes and My Thoughts - The World of Mark

  35. Bravo Mark, good time to open this can of worms.

    Comment by Poker en España (@PokerEspana) -

  36. Sorry Mark, you are not right on this one, you are just lobbying. De Coubertin intended the modern Olympics to be a an amateur’s contest. Players got tons of ways to get implicitly cashed out for their participation. I am entirely sure that there are several companies happy to pay for a roster spot. What about the Chevey 4×4 Super Strong Dream Team Power Forward? I guess this would account for sports and America being corporate.

    However the whole discussion about countries paying players is so US minded. Other countries’ Olympic committees simply ain’t got the budget to spent big money on players. Hell, they even abolished those swim suits because of budget constraints to smaller countries. Plus, there is a big difference in use of the revenue between state and commercial party. An Olympic committee should invest in elite programs, gyms or less profitable sports as opposed to a solely corporate organization.
    If you doubt that, move your $$$ to Switzerland and stop paying taxes, too.

    Comment by Matthias Bunny -

  37. Please excuse. “The Lords of the Rings” a book by Vyv Simpson and Andrew Jennings (was banned in the US and I had to buy mine in Taiwan) details the phenomenal amount of money, corruption and privilege goes to those within the Olympic movement. You can find it here on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Lords-Rings-Modern-Olympics/dp/067171225X The leaders of this group travels the world like heads of state.

    I gave a copy to the Dallas CVB years ago but it was never returned. I tried to explain what they were in for should they pursue the Olympics in Dallas. In 1994, I informally spoke with IOC president Juan Antonio Samarach about Dallas being a player although I was excluded from any board here. He knew I was from Texas and surprised Dallas has the size of the economy it we. (This was during the FIFA World Cup when Dallas was media host for the event.)

    Perhaps I’m a hypocrite on this subject having just learned hours ago who was named CEO of USA Track & Field, one of the worst abusers of this privilege, all on the athletes back. I had interviewed for this position. I like to think I would have been able to turn the focus on the athlete instead.
    Having realized this loss, I will continue to attempt to bring a world class meet to Texas slated April 2013.

    Comment by Troy James -

  38. Mark, you should read the book “The Lords of the Rings” by Vy Simpson (1993). I’ll loan you my copy if you can’t afford one.

    Comment by Troy James -

    • Troy, can we get some more information? Just the name represents a google search nightmare with the one and only Lord of the Rings. The book you mention can not be ordered at this time, its not in Wikipedia, a Vy Simpson google search brings up a senator from Indian with that name.
      Don’t tempt and tantalize us with a tidbit that makes us wonder where you are coming from and if there is a legitimate point to your comment..
      Please inform further, I for one, would like other perspectives on this site… But if what your referring to is what I think you are (that highly paid athletes have no place on an Olympic team), I think high profile or not, if the paid athlete is the way of the present, its how to do it within the context of so much dysfuntion and misplaced ideals then becomes the question.
      I like the one athletes comment that if he could just have his living expenses met, work a little but train full time for the Olympics he would be happy. How many of us would like to just live a simple life and have the basics met so we can pursue the things that make us happy without all the trappings of excess?
      Having a system in place that allows athletes a lifestyle that allows them to train and pursue their dream while having their living expenses met seems reasonable in exchange for representing our country. Wait a minute, isn’t that what we complained about with the Soviet’s for years, providing for their athletes? hmm… The next thing you know we will want socialized medicine where not only will all athletes have equal access to training and a lifestyle that lets them pursue their dreams, we’ ll have equal access to health care as well….

      Comment by suttonsbaydoug -

  39. The Olympics, an oddity of the human spirit manifested in every way.
    It certainly has never been a non-professional endeavor of the human spirit manifested in a pure joy of competing for the glory of one side as it is often portrayed.
    Athletes no doubt have always received special training and compensation for representing and winning for a particular country, government or king. Compensation has always been there, the question raised is, is it fair to all the athletes or will certain ones always get bigger cuts than others.
    Going with a pro Olympic team where all athletes get an agreed upon cut of the pie to represent their country perhaps would be one way to go. Is a Dwayne Wade or Kobe Bryant going to be ok making the same as a skeet shooter? Should they be compensated differently?
    How about the athletes for hire for the highest bidder? When you see college basketball players from this country being rented out to play for other countries, I’m not sure what the connection is there. Was their grandmother from that country and that allows them to get paid a million dollars to play for the Russian team in the Olympics.
    Many of the world’s premier athletes train in this country or go to school here anyway. Without the use and access to the competition, coaches and training facilities it is unlikely many of them could compete at the Olympic level.
    Athletes in one sense or another have always been hired guns and while it is fun to root for a team or country, the Olympics are suppose to about competing for a personal dream, against one’s self, and yes unfortunately, for ones race or country it seems at times (Jessie Owens and Nazi Germany come to mind)…
    Watching the Olympics on Wide World of Sports growing up the greatest thrill for me was watching the purity of spirit and sport where you would occasionally see with the high school state wrestling champ from a small farm town in Iowa wrestle with the star Mongolian camel herder and roundup champ. You got to see two distinct cultures and lifestyles merge and compete on common ground to see which one might prevail. These guys were amateurs and likely would never be seen again, except in another Olympics.
    This occasional glimpse of true competition between amateur athletes has always probably been the exception to the norm of star athletes that get all the training and glory, but I think with the Dwayne Wades, Michael Phelps and some gymnastic and track stars getting most of the attention, the “true and fun spirit” as with many professional sports, including college football, was left behind a long time ago for me.
    The Mongolian wrestling team is liable to have trained and gone to school at Iowa State and competed against most of who will be in the Olympics already. I miss the nostalgia at least (which was probably just a little more of reality in the past than now) of non-professional competition between cultures, not corporate sponsorship. Then again, the old Eastern Bloc countries had their doped up professionals winning solely for nationalistic and propaganda purposes too (sound familiar)…..
    Maybe the real Olympic flame of amateur competition was really never there to begin with, we just wanted it to be. Maybe it is time to have a professional Olympic team that is fairly compensated for their training and commitment and represented as most pro athletes are. Maybe it’s time to bring the whole world on to a level playing field when it comes to the Olympics.
    Of course there is a pink elephant in the room….
    Time to mention the IOC and the governing body that seems to live on another planet and how nothing can get accomplished without serious reform it appears, at that level. This discussion probably goes a lot easier without them in the picture….a whole other issue, how to topple a dictatorship or a dysfunctional governing body.
    There are so many ugly heads to this Olympic beast it is hard to know where to start. Certainly part of it starts with us, how we allow glorification and reward of some athletes and exclude others to “fend for themselves.” Maybe it is time to have a pro-Olympic team that is governed by all the athletes themselves; somehow the words money and governing body keeps popping up in this discussion.
    Yes, the Olympics, an oddity of the human spirit manifested in every way.

    Comment by suttonsbaydoug -

  40. Thanks you changed my mind. You are absolutely correct

    In thinking about it really Wade has no choice but to participate can you imagine the hatred and name calling if he said he did not want to go.

    Comment by Warren Taryle -

  41. What is the difference between the IOC and the NCAA then? You seem to be arguing that college players should be paid too… especially in football, where I would be surprised if they didn’t produce more than $1.4 billion a year.

    Comment by cosanostra71 -

  42. Whats the age old adage? Oh yeah the squeaky wheel gets the grease. With Wade being the only NBA star brave enough to offer a logical opinion on the risk he and others face by representing the USA on a regular scheduled basis, and left standing on stage without a chorus, his voice did not crack. it is obviously a unpopular stance to take, pinning CASH against patriotism. Then again none of the athletes are forced to say yes are they?

    While I agreed with the principal of seeking compensation for the talent that represents the USA, having to seek the inclusion of the NBA ” Dream Team, ” in an attempt to compete with nations who were using their college, semi pro or non NBA players, was a jackass move to begin with. I rather see talented collegiate players regain the opportunity that existed before the NBA owners wormed their way into placing the NBA into the Olympics.

    So yeah, if you have to use the NBA to make a nation feel better about being dominate in a sport you might as well pay for the privilege. One suggestion though, keep World Peace off the court, his name is not a subject that many countries embrace, or World Peace himself displays.

    There is my two cents worth, and offered at a discount, from one sport inventor to a maverick in sports.

    Comment by 2dpopout -

  43. Frankly, I’m embarrassed. Not only do I agree with what Mark says (again) I also agree with most of the comments above, and I hate that. I’m usually always the one to see both sides of a situation – always. I agree with so much of what Mark says, that I’m starting to just feel like a freakin’ yes man (woman). I’ve never been that in my whole life. Like I said, it’s beginning to be embarrassing.

    Comment by KT Banks -

  44. Thanks for posting this Mark!! It was a dream of mine to always compete in the summer Olympic games. I was a NCAA Division 1 track and field athlete. I went to the National Championship in 2007. Post college the goal, the idea, was to pursue my dream. However the reality is I graduated with $70,000 of student loan debt (There is very little support for track athletes…) , was getting married that summer so add another $15,000 and was faced with a decision. Devote the next ten years of my life to my dream and live in poverty (wife included), hope to get a spot at the Olympic training facility and work a part job. All the while deferring my student loans so I would be capitalizing all interest accrued, then even if I made it to the top of my sport… (Javelin Thrower), I would likely come out with little to no financial gain. I would have to then enter the work force in my thirties for the first time shackled to my debt…

    Everyone is your biggest supporter… that’s every four years for a couple of weeks… But like you said… it’s a business, a really big business and there is absolutely no oversight! Thanks again for speaking up.

    Comment by JMD (@JMD_925) -

  45. Mark. I agree with most of what you say. Why don’t you just give the Mavericks players a bonus for NOT playing in the Olympics or require them to pay for insurance against injury if they choose to play? If you make it more lucrative for them, then they will not play in the Olympics and the USOC will be forced to do something about it.

    From MC>Something to think about !

    Comment by Jack Newton -

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  47. Thank you for standing up for us Mark! I was on the US Ski Team for a little over a year and I ended up having to “put off skiing” in order to make ends meet. I literally had to give up what I loved and was good at in order to make money to survive. I was not an elite level athlete, like Bode Miller, so I was hardly getting paid anything for being on the team or skiing. I had three endorsements which afforded me the travel necessary to compete but everything else was on my own.

    It is a vicious circle. I couldn’t have a job outside of skiing or I couldn’t practice and get better but I was broke. If I did have a job to sustain any type of livable lifestyle I couldn’t practice and I had no chance of competing against guys who put 100% of their efforts into practice and training.

    As an American and an (aspiring) Olympic athlete I strongly believe my fellow athletes should get paid an amount that is just enough to sustain a livable lifestyle while putting 100% of our efforts into training. The US takes great pride in our athletes in the Olympic games. If the US wants to continue seeing domination from Americans then we need to make a decent living doing our “job” as an athlete.

    Comment by Mark Brown -

  48. Totally agree, Mark! What we often forget is that sports is an athlete’s job. Yes, it’s a job, not a charity, not a hobby. They need to get paid to be the best!

    Comment by Heidi Thorne -

  49. Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Mark Cuban: Olympics ‘Biggest Mistake the NBA Makes’

  50. It’s only a rort if you’re not involved

    Comment by An anonymous bloke -

  51. Mark, although I think you are basically right, youtube and other video based websites plus articles written about virtually every olympic athlete who competes can help ensure a bit of publicity for virtually all Olympic Athletes, and that publicity can help them for the rest of their lives.

    Is it fair to ask athletes who already paid their dues and defeated so many other athletes to simply get to the Olympics to then “intern” during the Olympics before they then get some type of potential sponsorships afterwards?

    I would suggest the following solutions, reimbursement of all training expenses for the prior several years. That offer would have to be extended to Olympic athletes who simply were part of the top ten finalists for their country otherwise some very grim things could happen behind the scenes at each country’s final Olympic qualifications.

    I assume athletes are allowed to have sponsors that pay all of their training expenses, and the Olympic committee should contribute to that as well, perhaps even matching the total the athlete actually accumulates.

    Although, the argument could be made that the Olympic training venues already are a contribution for the olympic hopeful.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  52. Just wanted to point out that the “most powerful” Olympic bureaucrat is from Mexico. I live in Bogota, Colombia and “shady alliances, questionable procedures, and a lack of ethics and principles” are EXACTLY how Latin American governments are run. If it was too much for one of their own, it must be REAL BAD!

    I agree it’d be more American to pay them, too :)

    Comment by Colin -

  53. Originally, The Olympics were supposed to be for amateur competitors only. Hence the non-payment scheme. However, the way the IOC runs things now, I agree, there should be a disbursement of the very rich cash coffers they hold. Base it on performance… just like in business. Well but that wouldn’t be smart business for the IOC, would it?

    Comment by Alex Olegnowicz -

  54. I had no idea, thanks for sharing Mark! I think we should push our Olympic athletes to create their own Olympic start ups, therefore they can be more prepared to negotiate compensations.

    Comment by @ciordonez -

  55. Reblogged this on Todoblog and commented:
    The Business of the Olympic Games: Monopoly

    Comment by @ciordonez -

  56. Well maybe some of the highly compenstated NBA OLYMPIC players could help those with less. I don’t know how to acomplish this, but don’t just point out that the ioc has 1.4B in the bank without mentioning the combined contacts/annual salary of the participating NBA players. maybe it would have been different if it was some lesser know, lesser paid, USA olympic participant that asked to be paid rather than someone making $27M a year.

    Comment by Sam Mahserjian (@sam_mahserjian) -

  57. its funny how ppl criticize wade for his comments, because i know every single one of you will say the same if you were ever in his shoes

    a grueling regular season + playoffs then immediately traning/games for olympics? followed by no time to rest for the next season? its not just sacrifice where you work “harder”, you are killing yourself both mentally and physically

    Comment by Ricky Su -

  58. …This is a pain in the head; I just want to get rich. SHOW ME THE MONEY!

    Comment by omgsorrythatsiteexists -

  59. Yes, Mark Cuban, you are correct. Focusing light thru the laser should/could start a fire to burn this up. But it won’t, and more’s the pity.

    Comment by neonwalrus -

  60. nationalism is stupid, obsolete, and counterproductive. it allows the service-oriented nature of most people to be exploited and warped into support for something corrupt. olympics are one example, war is a much bigger one.

    fortunately the nation-state system is on the verge of collapse, thanks to the debt scam they’ve foisted upon the world. the collapse cannot come soon enough.

    Comment by kidmercury (@kidmercury) -

  61. Dwyane Wade was referring specifically to himself and other highly-paid professional NBA players when he made that comment, so please don’t paint him as being a champion of the non-pro league athletes being taken advantage of by the Olympic Committee.

    Comment by Lori Loretta Florio -

  62. I actually had no idea about all that stuff, very informative blog. Good job Mr. Cuban!

    Comment by Alexanderp The Great (@NorCalAlex) -

  63. Whoa. Like Ryan, I had no idea, just a wide-eyed naive view of The Games. Great point, fairly compensating these incredible athletes would not detract at all from the glory of the games.

    Comment by Joel Usher (@joelrusher) -

  64. As usual Mark, I agree with your comments. The IOC is literally as elitist, old-school boys club as it gets. The gifts and glamor that they bestow upon themselves is nauseating. The sacrifice of the unsung (and less tony) Olympians is substantial, it is even more disheartening when one considers that you could probably fund the entire US Archery team on the tab for the IOC’s Brie bill alone. Quell Damage!

    Comment by Dodd Harris -

  65. I love how you tell it like it is and don’t care on bit who this pisses off (IOC). Keep it up and we’ll all keep reading. Good stuff.

    Comment by Jimmy Vosika -

  66. That’s why I’m so glad to have your blog on my feed. I don’t know why but I never even thought about this at all. I guess I just get so caught up in the moments when the Olympics are on but this is so true. I’m going to do my due diligence thank you for snapping me out of it !!!!

    Comment by Ryan Graham -

  67. Reblogged this on And it's GOOD.

    Comment by christopherlilly -

  68. Reblogged this on Sport Cynic.

    Comment by statsinthewild -

  69. Well said, Mark…I’ve read SO many stories about the sacrifices “our” athletes make for a long time just to get to compete in the Olympics and as you said, if they don’t bring home the Gold, they get nothing financially out of there hard work. They’re actually behind their peers financially because they haven’t been working at a “real” career for all those years. I wonder how many of them ever catch up in their post-competitive years…. :(

    Comment by Kevin McCarthy -

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