The 2014 Winter Olympics may be coming to a close but people are still enjoying the games. However, with big events there is almost always controversies, such as this repeated debate: Should professional athletes be allowed to participate in the Olympics?
Until the 1970’s, professional athletes were not allowed to play in the Olympics and athletes who did qualify as an amateur could only get private sponsorship ( i.e. family members). It wasn’t until 1971 that the International Olympic Committee eliminated the need for amateurism. Now big corporations like McDonalds can sponsor the Olympic athletes. Furthermore, countries are allowed to send professional athletes to the games. This means that USA can send a basketball team filled with NBA stars to the summer Olympics and Canada can send Sidney Crosby.
Now this begs the question: Should the professionals be allowed to play? They do have an assumed advantage for being paid in their respective sports. But many people disagree with this statement. One person interviewed for this article stated, “We take the best of the best and let them compete for gold. If we kept all of our best players at home, and a small country wins, they only won because we weren’t allowed to bring our best. Isn’t that just a handout, rather than a competition?”
However, another person argued that, “When you have countries like Canada, U.S.A., and Russia that have stacked NHL players, you can almost pick which country will win. If the Olympics allowed only 6 NHL players per country, then the playing field would be more even.”
Furthermore, what looks good on paper may not be the actual outcome. Finland beat USA, a team stacked with NHL players, for the bronze medal in Sochi this Saturday. Furthermore, in this writer’s opinion, an athlete is an athlete. Wages do not get you to the podium. It’s the athlete’s passion for their sport.