Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympic Trials

We've been watching a lot of the Olympic Trials that have been on tv recently and it got me thinking about how glamorous it all seems. Chasing the Olympic dream, putting it all on the line, your life on hold and BOOM - I'm an Olympian! It's awesome.

Or not.

While I was bored at work taking a break from endless excel spreadsheets, I came across several articles that give you a glimpse into the real life of an Olympic hopeful or athlete - and it's not all that pretty. They fail to go into much of this when you're watching Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swim against each other for billionth time.

How about these guys? This couple was trying to make the Olympics, him in the steeplechase and her in the marathon or 10,000 (neither made it unfortunately) and they were on freaking food stamps! This quote was also interesting:

"A recent foundation survey found that 80 percent of pro track and field athletes ranked in the U.S. top 10 in their event make less than $50,000 per year in sport-related income, and half make less than $15,000. Cull out marquee events like the 100 meters and the marathon, and the numbers grow even grimmer."

A book recently came out from an Olympian detailing some of the struggles she had. Dominique Moceanu, a former gymnast speaks about alleged 'abuse' from her coach. I haven't read the book but this article talks about eating issues and crazy workout schedules.  I guess what most shocked me later was that I wasn't shocked. You sort of hear about this stuff all the time, particularly in certain sports like gymnastics.

And prolific swimmer (and model) Amanda Beard recently spoke out about her struggles with bulimia and depression - and she was an Olympian! It makes me wonder about all those who got close and but never made it - how many of them dealt with the pressure in similar ways.

Anyways, I just found it interesting how glitzy the tv makes it all feel, so you and me on the couch thinks it's the most awesome thing ever to train for an Olympic spot. They don't tell you the real deal of people barely scraping by and not making it, or making it and being too f'd up to even enjoy it. 

I do feel for those who barely make any money, but on the other hand sometimes I see these athletes and think, oh just get a job. The irony of me being mired in work spreadsheets while simultaneously feeling sympathy and jealousy is not lost on me.

But don't get me wrong, I love watching the events, the stories, and reading about it. That's why our DVR is filled with prelims and finals of every sport that was on tv. 



Steve said...

Like the update. Don't have much to say, but yeah even the fabulous have to deal with life I guess. So many examples of the fabulous and their lives ain't all it is cracked up to be.

You are Brianne Gaal though, and I like you. You are good people.

Hope you guys have a great weekend!! :)

Beth said...

Oh I couldn't agree more! Glamorous? Hardly. It would be a tough, tough life. And for every 1 person that does make it, 1000s don't. But nonetheless it is the ultimate dream no?

Anonymous said...

Great View Point! And an Eyeopener to What some of the Athletes Make. . . Wow.It Also Shows
How Depression Doesn't Discriminate Against Anyone. Coaches Are not To Blame for the Depression but Could Do More to Help these Athletes Get the Help They Need.

Thanks For Making Me Think Bout How Good I
Have It as A Regular Runner.

Stay Hydrated Everyone!

Donna said...

Important information. Kids usually get into it for love of their sport, then become overwhelmed by adults with their own ambitions and can't see a way out. Sad. But Brava! to the couple on food stamps who tried!

Kelly said...

Um, duh! It mostly sucks I think and that's why most people aren't Olympians, because most people are not emotionally unhealthy enough to continue down a path that continues to destroy them, right?

You want to read some crazy gymnastics memoirs -- Chalked Up and Little Girls in Pretty Boxes were both good.

And, this was a really good study on how much track athletes actually make - For various reasons, there's not a lot of hard numbers out there about how much these kind of athletes make, so this was the first of its kind.

Sorry, I just wrote an article about this for 3GO Magazine and then the magazine went out of bsuiness, so now I have all this information and need to unload it! hah.