There is one thing about big dreams: they can often be pretty expensive. From jetting off to Paris to an Ivy League education to training for the Olympics, all of these feats need funding, and lots of it. The latter is in the news these days with the 2012 games being in full swing, and reminding us that all that glitters is not gold. Among the stories of triumph and medals there is the darker side that comes with getting to that point: the expense and sacrifice that the athlete’s parents must endure.
The Daily Beast reported that earlier this year Gabby Douglas’s mother Natalie Hawkins filed for bankruptcy in Virginia in response to approximately $80,000 of debt. Hawkins is a single mother of four and has reportedly been on long-term medical disability, going on long stretches of little to no income. Unfortunately, she’s not the only athlete whose parents are facing financial ruin. During the games, news broke that superstar swimmer and American heartthrob Ryan Lochte’s parents are currently facing foreclosure on their home in Florida.
The Daily Beast says, “the financial strain their years of training put on their families indicates that investing in a future Olympian may not always be a financially sound decision.” There are the costs of training, membership fees, equipment, gear, competition entry fees, housing, and more all adding up to quite a sum for families to fork over for their child’s chance at greatness.
“The burden placed on American athletes, whose families must foot the bill themselves for more than a decade of expensive training, is in stark contrast to that of the world’s other Olympic powerhouse. China, the only country topping the U.S. in the medal count, boasts a government-backed national sports program, churning out gold medalists with dizzying success over the past two decades—all on the government’s dime.”
There is a silver (or in this case gold) lining for the families of Gabby Douglas and Ryan Lochte: their financial sacrifices paid off. Their kids won the gold and are both on track to bring home millions in appearance, ad and sponsorship money. But for every Gabby Douglas there are dozens of girls who, despite the amount of money spent on their training, will never reach that lucrative level.
Do you think that our country should help pay the bills for training Olympic champions or do you think it is up to the families to pony up the money to bring home the gold?