US Olympic Program- We can do better!

I’m a founding member of a task force that’s part of the USOC Athletes Council and I’ve spearheaded an investigation of the USOC resources allocation practices.  My investigation was going after a board policy from the USOC that only funds those that are current and likely to potentially medal.  If you aren’t already proven to have top ten results internationally you won’t get the funding. Actually you get nothing.  No wonder so many athlete are going bankrupt and having such financial difficulties.

Ironically, the people at both the USOC and US Sailing told me they didn’t have enough money to help the developing athletes when over 1 billion is invested domestically to fund the Olympic program.  Interestingly they had enough to pay themselves 6-7 figure salaries before any athletes got any financial support. From my calculations actually 6% of gross revenue of the USOC actually goes to athletes in the form of money.

I highlighted this in a key presentation to the annual General Assembly meeting in the USOC headquarters this September. I remember going tick for Tack with some of the most accomplished people in the world. CEO of Xerox, CEO of EA sports, Stanford, Harvard grads etc.  Each time they laid into a story telling episode about how there just is not enough money to go around- expressing how they’d have to take it away from currently winning teams. I countered with what I felt was actually happening and how most of the money they do receive is free money from the IOC (international Olympic Committee) has provided and can streamline many other parts of the organization. It seems like they were in denial the entire time, but I’m not suprised there is resistance as we are currently winning the medal count. Three sports: Swimming, Gymnastics and Track & Field win nearly 70% of our summer medals each Summer Olympics, yet don’t make up the majority of potential medals that could be won.

I knew my Olympic dream was a miracle, maybe I was just that talented, but I probably got lucky as well on the way there. Having to work and fundraise a fortune to make the dream come true; a million plus dollars just from my own contributions.  But the athletes I represent had a fairly unified message after that presentation I made, we need change and thanked me for saying what I did.  This process has continued on, from meeting with Senators to helping draft survey questions to correctly guage the level of change we need to make, change is happening.  Everyone is communicating and looking to balance the differences. I have been a part of that change and I hope to continue to spearhead the best way to fulfill the US Olympic movement’s mission statement. I will keep you updated.

Surely I got some people scared in this pursuit, I took a stand.  Going slower than fast is the safe way in politics.  You don’t want to tip the boat, is what many career politicians do.  Well I for one am not there to maintain power, I am there to make change. Well I believe that sometimes capsizing the boat is the best thing you can do. Hitting the water  and swimming wakes you up, it makes you realize that everyone is the same when you’re at the mercy of the ocean. No wealth or fitness can overcome the power of nature. It has to be respected. So does the core value of supporting our American athletes in the Olympics.  I know that I had the opportunity to do things I never thought was possible at the start of my Olympic dream some 15 years ago.  I never won a Gold medal at the Olympics, but I know that thousands more will hopefully get the more equal chance of doing such at the end of this work.  Dream big, inspire others to have the confidence to fight for the same equality. I do everyday.

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