SBD/April 13, 2012/Olympics

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  • USA Basketball Chair Colangelo Says There Is No Extra Money To Pay Players

    Colangelo said money from tickets, sponsorships goes to team expenses

    USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo delivered a "calm, measured, multi-pronged rebuttal to NBA players who believe they should be paid for playing for Team USA in the Olympics," according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. At the "heart of the matter, Colangelo said there is no extra money." He said, "All of the money that is generated from our participation and the competitions the senior teams participate in effect subsidizes and pays for the entire U.S. Olympic (basketball) programs and that includes all of the junior programs where most of these players came from." Colangelo added, "When I took over the program in 2005, they were in a terrible losing situation financially. During the next four years, I quadrupled the revenue, but that only brought us to break even. That covers all of the expenses for the men, women, boys and girls, all the way down. We sell sponsorship, sell tickets to exhibition games." He also said that Team USA players "derive tangible and immeasurable benefits from participating." Colangelo: "We will live in a global economy. All of our players have shoe contracts and apparel contracts and they're little mini-businesses [unto] themselves and in some cases, they're not mini-businesses, they're quite substantial" (USATODAY.com, 4/12). Colangelo "considers his role in the rejuvenation of USA Basketball to be his greatest achievement." He said, "You're out there in the world representing your country. I took that very personally and I still do" (SI.com, 4/12).

    HONOR SOCIETY: YAHOO SPORTS' Eric Freeman wrote introducing salaries would "change the relationship between Team USA and its athletes, but it wouldn't necessarily change the ethos of the Olympics as they are actually experienced." For all the talk of "Olympic ideals, in its contemporary form it's a multi-billion-dollar corporation." Freeman: "Pretending that it's all about honor and integrity is naive" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/12). CBSSPORTS.com's Royce Young wrote any time someone that "already makes million of dollars implies they'd like to make even more money for just donning their country's colors and performing what's almost seen as a patriotic duty, there's going to be backlash." Heat G Dwyane Wade's "original point about being paid for merchandise sales was a worthy one." The "backlash to the idea that players should be paid for the basketballing services is certainly justified though." To think that players that are "already paid extremely handsomely need to be compensated to play for [their] country is absurd." That is "everything the Olympic games are not." Young: "Yeah, people are making money and they probably want a slice. But the Olympics aren't supposed to be about money" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/12). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “When you bring up being paid to play in the Olympics, there’s something there I sort of disagree with that notion. ... That’s a time, particularly if you’re a professional basketball player, where you have made enough money over the course of a year and career where pay ought to not be involved with the Olympics” (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/12). But TNT's Steve Kerr said, "You have to understand the context with which he said that. He was answering a question and he referred specifically to all of the jersey sales. I have no problem with that. If Dwyane Wade's No. 9 jersey or whatever it is that says ‘USA’ on it is being sold and somebody is making money, shouldn't he get a piece of that?” ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 4.12)

    SUPPLY AND DEMAND: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel wrote there is a "fundamental reason why America’s best basketball players should not be paid for their Olympic experience: supply and demand." If Wade and Celtics G Ray Allen "don’t want to play for free, fine." That is "their choice, and it might not be a bad choice." Tramel: "I have a feeling that USA Basketball could put together a 12-man squad of unpaid volunteers that would not embarrass the country." USA Basketball "shouldn’t have to pay its Olympians for the simplest of reasons." It "doesn’t have to" (NEWSOK.com, 4/12). The Chicago Tribune’s Matt Bowen said, “It's a privilege to play in the Olympics. You are playing for your country. If he doesn't want to play they'll get somebody else. They'll have guys lining up to play” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 4/12). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "None of us work for free, none of us would be asked to work for free, so I understand this. But I cannon think of something more distinctly American than Dwyane Wade saying, ‘Pay me.’ Capitalism. So of course, he says it, it’s American, it’s true, he wants to be paid and then we make him retract it” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/12).

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