Many U.S. Winter Olympic Hopefuls Struggle Under NGB System For Athlete Support
For the past year, no U.S. Olympic governing body, and “no group of athletes, has struggled more than speedskating,” according to Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. U.S. Speedskating President Mike Plant said that the money the NGB received from the USOC for direct athlete support “is down about $15,000 from last year to $385,000.” U.S. Olympic short-track speedskating hopeful Emily Scott “filed for food stamps two weeks ago,” and this month her monthly stipend “was cut from $1,950 to $600.” Scott has “no idea how she is going to make ends meet.” The story of “an aspiring Olympian barely scraping by is not a new one.” Outside of “a handful of skiers and snowboarders flush with corporate sponsors, other winter athletes -- speedskaters, bobsledders, skeleton racers -- shared their financial difficulties.” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun yesterday said, "I wish we could support everybody. But the truth is, our job is to put as many Americans that we can on the podium so we try to prioritize our support." The USOC “took a step toward improving athlete support Monday with details of a newly created foundation.” Unlike most Olympic organizations around the world, the USOC “receives no direct government support” (USA TODAY, 7/2).
DOLLARS & SENSE: Federal tax filings show that the USOC “has been successful financially," reporting a $91M revenue surplus in '12. Whiteside wondered, "Why do many aspiring Olympians struggle financially?” The USOC “provides funds to national governing bodies (NGBs) based on performance.” As a result, the “rich get richer.” The USOC last year “provided grants" of more than $4M to both USA Track & Field and USA Swimming. The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association was the “only other NGB" to top $4M in grants. USA Gymnastics ($2.7M), U.S. Speedskating ($2.7M) and USA Shooting ($2.4M) were the “only other sports to receive more than $2 million in grants.” Plant said, "The bottom line is everyone has to understand there's a clear path, and they are result- and performance-based" (USATODAY.com, 7/1).