Monday, August 18, 2008

My love hate relationship with amateur sport

I'm a little bit ticked off after my day at work so I thought I'd go on a little rant to release at least some of my pent up anger.

Every couple of years motivated by the fact the Canada isn't winning so many medals at the Olympics people get the big idea that we should throw more money into amateur sports because we aren't winning enough medals. It's not that I don't support amateur athletics. I do truly love the Olympics. I also appreciate how hard these athletes work to be at the top of their sports. You hear stories about athletes who can't train as hard because they don't have the funding or some like David Ford even pay their own way to compete after they lose their funding. Sure we hear about things like Team Visa and RONA who pay to help a few athletes pay for their training but most don't really get that kind of help.

The thing is that as soon as someone says something like "we'd do better at the Olympics if we spent more money on amateur sport", I start thinking I already pay 1/3 of my annual salary to the government to pay for things like health care, the military, subsidized tuition and low income housing. All things that I feel are just a little bit more important that seeing someone with a medal hanging around their necks. The thing about spending tax money on anything thing is that the money has to come from somewhere, either something has to be cut or the citizens need to be taxed more.

I've also found that high performance athletes do actually receive a whole lot of extra little bonuses that the average person doesn't get either. Even if these are not professional athletes getting the big bucks for what most of them are able to receive at least some scholarship funding for college. Many of the large American schools even offer full scholarships for athletes (though granted most of these are for sports in which you can turn professional. But I came out of university with a piece of paper, a couple of letters to put behind my name and a whole lot of debt. Scholarship athletes could come out with the same things and a whole lot less debt.

I guess what I'm trying to say is not that these athletes shouldn't be rewarded for their dedication to their sport and their desire to compete for their country but I shouldn't be expected to foot the bill. Do I feel a tiny sense of pride when I see a Canadian up there on the podium? Sure I do. But I also work hard for my money and if I want to donate to sport of my own free will then I will but I'm not so sure it should be mandatory as part of my citizenship.

One more thing before I end my little rant. I realize that the Federal government as well as the Provincial government in BC have been and will continue to throw a whole lot of money into the Vancouver 2010 games and I'm not entirely sure I agree with that either but at least that is leading to changes such as improved infrastructure which will still be around (if done properly of course) long after all of the athletes that compete in 2010 are retired.

And end rant.

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