When the NHL decided not to send their players to the Seoul Olympics, there was a group that benefited: The amateurs.
For many, this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Imagine playing in the minors knowing that making it in the big leagues was a long shot at best but getting the chance to compete on the world stage and win an Olympic medal.
There were some very happy Canadian hockey players holding bronze medals. Germany may not have had much of a chance to get a silver medal if it hadn’t been for the situation. The Russian team got the gold—not surprised by that.
Professional status was defined as making a living at your sport. That was a a goal for hockey/football/soccer/baseball/basketball players (and other popular league based sports), but for many other athletes, making money wasn’t a practical goal because of the lack of opportunity. You don’t see professional swimming leagues for example. The Diamond Track and Field league is one of the ways for some athletes to compete and earn on a regular basis.
Some governments pay (or did pay) all expenses for athletes, to field the best at the Olympics. Sponsorship use to negate your amateur status, but rules have been changing, and colleges are relaxing the regulations.
So, the line between amateurs and professionals is vague and often unfair to some. Do all athletes deserve a chance to show their skills on the world stage, and is it fair to deny them that opportunity? Do athletes in all disciplines deserve an opportunity to make money doing what they love and are good at?
It is important to show the best of the best, but should it remain the ultimate achievement of the amateur?
Part One here: Monday Musings: The Olympics-Part One: What’s it all about?
Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.