Olympic athletes train all of their lives to compete for their country in their respective sport during the Summer Olympics. The opportunity to compete for your country, along with being watched by millions of people all over the world, can be considered an honor.
However, recently, Miami Heat star shooting guard Dwyane Wade made headlines for saying that the United States’ Olympians should be compensated for their time.
“It’s a lot of things you do for the Olympics,” Wade said. “A lot of jerseys you sell. We play the whole summer. I do think guys should be compensated.”
Wade’s comments sparked huge debates throughout the media world, with most people asking themselves this question, ‘Should Olympic athletes get compensation for competing?’
Current Boston Celtic Ray Allen, who was a former member of the 2000 US gold medal basketball team backed Wade’s comments, saying that basketball players are a business.
“Everybody says, ‘Play for your country.’ But NBA players are commodities, you’re businesses,” said Allen. “You think about it, you do camps in the summer, you have various opportunities to make money. When you go overseas and play basketball, you lose those opportunities.”
The 2012 USA men’s Olympic basketball team features a star studded roster. Wade is joined by fellow NBA superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard.
The rest of the roster still features some major star power. They include LaMarcus Aldridge, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams. This entire lineup has no difficulty in marketability among the US or even the world.
The 2012 US Olympic basketball team is set to make $281,480,000 as part of their NBA salaries for the 2011-2012 season. This number will increase this summer, as star point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul hit the free agent market, commanding a price of over $17 million per year of their new contracts. Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon will also contribute in the raise, both young point guards signing a hefty extension with their teams.
The combined salary for one year of all the players on the US roster doesn’t even include their salaries from endorsement deals. Wade, Bryant, James, Anthony, Howard, Paul, and Durant earned an estimated salary of about $107 million from their 2012 endorsements alone.
After receiving criticism from several media outlets, Wade backed off of his original statement. Wade went to his Twitter account to clarify his comments and make amends to his loyal fans. “What I was referencing is there is a lot of Olympic business that happens that athletes are not a part of, and it’s a complicated issue,” said Wade. “But my love for the game and pride for USA motivates me more than any money amount. I repped my country in 2004 when we won the bronze medal and stood proudly to receive our gold medal in 2008 in Beijing. It’s always been an honor for me to be a part of the USA Olympic family and I’m looking forward to doing it again in London this summer.”
After viewing all of this evidence, it is absurd to think that the 2012 US Olympic basketball team should be compensated for participating in such a monumental event. It is even more confusing why an athlete like Wade, who has a base salary of $15,512,000, plus $12 million from endorsements, would make his original statements about receiving compensation for participating in the Olympics.
Being an Olympic athlete, achieving the right to display USA across your chest, and being considered one of the best basketball players in the country, should be a huge honor. That is a once in a lifetime moment when you can represent your country with pride and honor. When people think of Olympians, they think of the pinnacle of greatness, not a paycheck for doing something you love or are extremely skilled at.