I saw a question posed on Twitter Monday that went something like this, “If you were in the NHL or NBA would you play in the Olympics for no money?”
I don’t participate on Twitter very often, but I had to jump on this one. I replied that I absolutely would play in the Olympics for no compensation, and I’m annoyed to no end when athletes begin to hint that they want paid to play in the Olympics.
I got a response that said, “That is easy to say, but you would risk your career?”
The short answer for me is yes, but I certainly understand that line of thinking, I just don’t buy it. These guys can get hurt doing any number of day-to-day activities, and of course there is an element of risk involved playing in the Olympics, but who wants to be that paranoid.
If we were talking about football I might have a different take. Football players have short careers anyway and the risk of injury is obviously more significant. Hockey is a contact sport, but those guys march to a different beat to begin with and, as a group, seem to embrace the whole Olympic concept. The NHL is a true melting pot of nationalities and it looks like those guys get off on the competition.
Of course, basketball is increasing its global footprint too and the USA, even with the best NBA players, are finding it more difficult to win the gold medal. I hope the Tweet I saw was more of a general question than rumblings from the athletes causing the debate.
Basketball players are paid handsomely, especially those who are in contention to be on the Olympic team, so a career ending injury could be costly to be sure. On the other side of the coin, they already have banked millions, so why not just play?
Taking the lead of whiney athletes is golfers complaining about not being paid to compete in the Ryder Cup matches. I hear some of you now questioning if golfers are athletes, and that debate is for another day. David Duvall brought the question of being paid to play in the Ryder Cup up a number of years ago when he was still a relevant player.
There was plenty of negative backlash toward Duval at that time. The Ryder Cup team is treated royally with first class travel and accommodations. It is just bad form to ask to be paid for something that is actually an honor.
That’s why heads turned when then 26-year-old Hunter Mahan equated the Ryder Cup with being treated like a slave four years ago. Slavery?
One would think the PGA handbook would have a chapter in bold print regarding stupid things golfers say, and not to say them. I imagine it will be awhile before we hear a tour player complaining about compensation for the Ryder Cup.