When I was growing up, the Olympics in our house was huge. Down right unpatriotic not to keep up with all the events.
Fast Forward, I'm 53 years old, so I'm remembering back, prior to the BIG money, prior to the professionals, prior to the high-tech, when the Olympics for Americans was about amateur athletes, young folks who sacrificed around school, jobs, and families to reach their goals and get to the Olympics. When the amateurs friends were sleeping in or out partying, they were practicing 7 days a week.
Now, along with the American athletes, 90% of the world altheletes you see competing in the Olympics are Americanized, they train and live here in the US. Heck, they are all good friends, they train together in the same facility, and have the same coach but they're representing different countries. They have agents - it's contracts, commercials, sexy magazine spreads, reality TV. After these Winter Olympics, I'm sure a few of 'em will be forever plastered on the tabloids along with Tiger, Britney, Paris, and Michael. There's no underdog athlete for me to pull for anymore. My patriotic loyalties seem kinda silly.
In 1913, Jim Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic decathlon and pentathlon medals, because he had played minor league baseball for $25 per week. His medals were eventually returned, but not until almost 30 years after his death. In the 2008 Beijing games, the USA basketball players made a combined $160,552,278 last year in NBA salary alone. That's over $160M, between 12 men. While Thorpe's medals were eventually returned, the fact remains that the Olympics were originally intended to be an amateur competition, and while some sports have stayed true to that, too many have turned into exhibitions of multi-millionaires.
Hey, I don't blame anybody for making money, if the opportunities were there for me, I'd be grabbing for a big piece of the pie too. I'm just sayin' as a spectator, I still enjoy the Olympics on TV somewhat but with all the gloss and greed now involved, it just doesn't hold the appeal for me like it did years ago.