Despite their success at the London Olympic Games, many Olympians will return to the States with great financial concerns. The U.S. government is one of the select countries that does not grant Olympians money. U.S. Olympians are forced to rely on the U.S. Olympic committee (USOC), which receives money from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The problem lies in that the money given by the U.S. Olympic Committee ($170 million annually) is spread across all sports and is not divided evenly. The majority of the money goes to the “popular” sports — the lesser-viewed sports are left without much financial assistance.
Alan Ashley, the Head of Sport Performance for the USOC, said in a CNN interview, "Our relationship with each national governing body is very customized. So our relationships with judo, rowing or track and field are all quite different. They're tailored around trying to do as much as we possibly can to support their strategy in terms of training camps, coaching, getting into the right competitions." He continued by saying that the division of money is determined by looking at how many medals each sport has won and deciding whether or not that sport has a good shot of winning in the future.
Many athletes also look to private donors, but it is hardly enough to get pay for their wide range of expenses. As a result, athletes are forced to gather income consisting of prize money, apparel contracts, grants, and other jobs. Additionally, if an athlete does not excel, he/she loses a big chunk of income. Americans who win gold medals in the 2012 Olympic Games will receive a $25,000 bonus, silver medalists will receive $15,000, and bronze medal winners will acquire $10,000. Most athletes however, do not make it that far and as a result, he/she may lose her apparel contract and will certainly not receive any prize money.
It is becoming more and more difficult to become an Olympian, as the athletic ability among participants is strengthening and as financial expenses are becoming steeper. The Women’s Sports Foundation recognizes this problem, which is why we established our Travel & Training Program.
The Travel & Training Fund provides direct financial assistance to aspiring athletes – in individual and team sports – with successful competitive records who have the potential to achieve even higher performance and rankings. Travel & Training grants allow serious female athletes a chance to fulfill their potential on the regional, national or international level through assistance for coaching, specialized training, equipment, athletic attire, and/or travel.
Visit Keepherinthegame.org to hear how you can help fund an Olympic athlete.