Are Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade out of line when they said they should be compensated to play for Team USA in the Olympics?
The Olympics today are not those we watched with Jim McKay, and they haven’t been for a long time.
Everyone who works for the team gets compensated directly except the players. The U.S. Olympic Committee, the Olympics, NBC and the merchandising companies all profit off the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Why shouldn’t the players?
In golf, this issue has come up in the last few years because the PGA of America makes a fortune on the Ryder Cup, while the players are not compensated. Some have sounded off recently, but ultimately no one has opted out because of it (likely out of fear of a public relations backlash).
Being on Team USA is not just a dozen stars showing up for a week of practice and then a two-week tournament. After the U.S. won the bronze in 2004, Team USA demanded and received a three-year summer commitment from all players if they wanted to be on the 2008 squad.
This year’s NBA season will end two weeks later than usual because of the lockout. Many of the top U.S. players will be competing into mid- or late June in the NBA playoffs. Team USA’s training camp is late July. The Olympics are in August. NBA training camps start in late September.
“The biggest thing is now you get no rest.” Wade said. “You’re giving up a lot to do it. It’s something you want to do, but it’s taxing on your body. You are not playing for the dollar, but it would be nice if you would be compensated.”
Allen and Wade are not bad guys. They have raised seven figures for charity and have both represented this country before. They just both believe there should be some form of compensation for their time and effort. When pressed, both think the money should come from some percentage of the jersey sales.
That would not be an outrageous request, except the jersey in question is Red, White and Blue.
Roughly five out of every six people surveyed disagree with Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade. When asked why they shouldn’t get paid, the overwhelming answer is “because it’s an honor to represent your country.” Which it is. But Allen and Wade are wondering why everyone else involved in Team USA basketball gets to enjoy the capitalist side to America while they only get to enjoy the patriotic side.
Allen and Wade are right about many things, but wrong about their main point. They are paid to play in the Olympics. Just not directly.
One can easily argue that their “star” power is greatly enhanced by playing for Team USA. That leads to them receiving bigger player and shoe contracts in America. With basketball such a global game, the Olympics also increase the stars’ marketing opportunities around the world. On top of that, the NBA is enhanced by their stars competing in the Olympics, which leads to more popularity for the league here and abroad. That leads to bigger TV deals, which increases the salary cap, which leads to more money for everyone.
For the record, Wade’s Miami Heat teammate LeBron James has a different take. “I love representing my country, man. I’ve done it since 2004 and I’m looking forward to doing it in London. As far as (pay), I don’t know, man. It doesn’t matter. I’m happy to be part of the team, to be selected again.”
Besides, Ray and Dwyane, a caller to our radio show has the perfect solution.
He suggested if you want to get paid for playing in the Olympics, you can always sell your gold medal on eBay.