David Moulton: Compensation for Olympic basketball players is only fair


Should basketball players be compensated to play for Team USA in the Olympics?

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David Moulton

David Moulton

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.

David Moulton is a freelance writer and co-host of “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon,” which airs weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m. on WWCN/AM 770 ESPN. His column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 6

swamp4ever writes:

What a waste of good airtime today.....would have rather listened to baseball talk. Alot of people chimed in so I guess I'm in the minority.

Bosshog21 writes:

What makes them any different from the others.

Stagemusic writes:

I have no problem with some form of compensation for the players in the Olympics. After all, this is their profession. They are paid to perform on the court every day. A percentage of the sales from the jersey's would be a perfect way to compensate the players. Those jersey's don't just say USA on the front, there is a name that adds to the value on the back. I doubt seriously if sales would be as strong without those names (I know that I would be more likely to buy a USA jersey with my favorite players name on it than just a plain USA jersey). Put a percentage of the sales in a pot and divide it equally among all the players.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

USA USA USA that is all you should need-

trueamerican writes:

My question is are the players for USA Hockey compensated? Also if you can please clear this up, I heard this discussion on Mikeand Mike this AM, and Golic said, if you win Gold, you get compensated something to the tune of $25,000. Do you or anyone have a correct take on this?

naples_year_round writes:

>>>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.

Excuse me, but none of those people who get paid will ever be given an Olympic medal or be called an "Olympic champion". Coaches don't get medals. Trainers don't get medals. Only players. And that's why the players should NOT be paid.

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