Just some food for thought

Understanding Why #WeDemandChange

Last night Twitter timelines were flooded with “I am honored to be an Olympian but, #rule40 #wedemandchange” and it has many asking questions. What exactly is this rule40 and what sort of change is being demanded? Here’s a summary of what the movement means to me.

First a you need to know the players: Athletes: Olympians and those aspiring to being Olympians IOC: International governing body over the entire Olympics NOC: National Organizing Committee for a particular country in my case USOC IOC sponsors: those giving enough money to the IOC to have ‘Official sponsor of the Olympic Games’ displayed in their advertising USOC sponsors: those giving enough money to the USOC to have ‘Official sponsor of the Team USA” displayed in their advertising Personal sponsors: resources or funding secured by the athlete for personal use Job: any work in addition to full time training to become an Olympian in order to be able live day to day or to supplement additional monies needed after securing a personal sponsor.

Rule 40: restricts Olympians from mentioning personal sponsors during the ‘Games Period’ which is defined as: “…18 July 2012 until three days after the Closing Ceremony for the Games – 15 August 2012, during the period of which the Olympic Village is open.”

This means that during the time period when we have the biggest platform to be heard we can not even thank those who have helped us the last four years by providing resources for us to reach our goals. It also reduces an athlete’s value to any sponsor outside the scope of the IOC or USOC, making it difficult for most athletes to secure personal sponsorship and make a living.

The bigger issue is why should we have to rely on a sponsor for what is a full time commitment. The performances you see require time and dedication that seldom permits an Olympic hopeful to work the average 8 hours a day and train in a way that would allow an elite performance.

We should be able to look to our governing bodies for income the same way the average person looks to an employer for income based on services rendered. The USOC and IOC have a responsibility to compensate us for our daily efforts in our quest to become Olympians and the compensation should be monetary.

We have been accused of being either unpatriotic or greedy but neither is true. We understand the investments of the IOC and USOC sponsors allow for expenditures such as private facilities ,travel, housing and food once we are headed to the games and we are extremely grateful for safe and adequate accommodations while here.

Yet, how do we develop into Olympians without receiving these resources years prior to the games?There is injustice in anyone capitalizing off the Olympics and the athletes who compete in it not being included. In 2012 where the whole world is an enterprise why are we being considered greedy when we say the medal is not enough?

What does it all mean if after attending the games you have to return to a village with no drinking water or to living in your car with your medal?( I am not making this up!) When the average person receives recognition for a job well done at work is it just a certificate and handshake or is there usually a bonus and a promotion associated with that job well done?

Sponsors and advertising are great for those FEW phenoms who receive enough coverage heading into the games based on their medal potential to secure IOC or USOC individual sponsorship but what about everyone else?

When it is not an Olympic year how does a discount on a car from a NGB sponsor help me if I can’t afford to purchase any car regardless of price because I have no income.

So what are we are asking for? We are asking that ‘funding’ turn into actual funds that trickle down to athletes in ways that would allow us to support ourselves and our families on a daily basis as this is our livelihood. We’d like to see a prize money structure for ALL sports in the Olympic games from the IOC monies collected. Also, a salary type income from the USOC that would allow Olympic hopefuls to receive monies on a regular basis so as to train full time. With numbers like 6.5 billion being generated from the Olympic Games we feel a cut is a reasonable request.

I don’t have all the answers on how to get this accomplished but inviting athletes to the table would be a great start as currently we are not being included in the discussions for decisions being made about us. We’d just like to have a voice.

To read rule 40 and the IOC social media guidelines for yourself click here:

http://www.usatf.org/events/2012/OlympicTrials-TF/athleteInfo/Rule40_Pamphlet_4.pdf