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  • #16
    but selling "team USA" implies that they "own" the athletes. They don't. They did nothing to develop them, provide none of the coaching coaching, own no training facilities, provide no medical, provide no travel. Yet you would have USATF with the right to decide what endorsement opportunities they should have with the biggest sponsor?

    As MJR so aptly put it <<our sport still lives in a fuedal mentality born of the IOC & AAU (now USATF & USOC too) which retains its death grip around the necks of the athletes.>>

    The athletes need to remain free to move in a free-market society.

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    • #17
      The athletes are starving in your "freemarket society".

      There is a huge discrepancy between track and field athletes' true salaries and the perception of track fans and enthusiasts. The athletes are ashamed to admit that they are not making any money. The agents don't want to be squeezed out. And the fans don't want to admit that their favorite sport is less than a tiny dot on the radar of pro sports. The emperor has no clothes.

      My proposal that USATF sell Team USA and give everyone a base salary of $50K benefits the majority of the USA athletes who rank in the top 20 in the world. Period.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by MJR
        Being a professional athlete by definition does not mean that the athlete in question is a top 10 in the world. It means that is their primary vocation in life. There are baseball players, even before expansion, that hit .200 and made a decent living. They were by no means all-stars, but they were good enough to play the game. They also can make aliving based upon their relative talents. There is no reason that T&F athletes should not have this ability open to them, except that our sport still lives in a fuedal mentality born of the IOC & AAU (now USATF & USOC too) which retains its death grip around the necks of the athletes.
        I'm not saying top 10. But your definition isn't realistic. IMHO, something like top 30 in the world per event is.

        Baseball is a terrible sport to compare T&F with. It has a completely different competitive structure. It also has a completely different economic reality. On top of that you forgot to mention the hundreds if not thousands of professional baseball players in the minor leagues, those playing winter ball in Latin America, and those playing for chicken scratch in A- or Rookie leagues.

        No I'm not defending the alphabet soup guys and their feudal mentality. But some foundation in reality is necessary in order to move forward.

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        • #19
          The market dictates everything. There is a reason why athletes are starving - there is no market that is driving anyone to feed them. A-Rod gets his quarter-BILLION $$ contract, because that is what the market dictates his worth is. The truth about T&F saddens me, but that's just the reality of the situation. I don't even think a true pro labor union would help matters much (but I do support its existence). USATF can and should provide the means to support athletes' income, and in that sense it needs to also 'dictate' where and when athletes compete, for the sake of overall sport, but, in essence I agree with gh - the free market is the only fair market.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by gm
            Originally posted by Cooter Brown
            Originally posted by KLocke
            Many of our USA stars live in Southern California. Sadly, they cannot live there on $50k. Will they use a slip knot or hang's man knot?
            $50K won't go far in pretty much every desirable place to live.

            Subtract:
            $10,000 fed taxes
            $7,500 agent 15% cut
            $5,000 coach 10% cut
            $1,200 insurance premium
            $7,500 401k 15% contribution (ha ha)

            and you are left with a bit over $1500 a month. Great. You can make half a house payment (in CA about 20% of a payment).

            Now, if you want to live like a college student or in Bucksnot, MS, then $50K may work for you.

            No athlete with a tiny bit of success on the circuit would go for it.
            Are you s'ing me? You must live in Rockefeller Acres.
            $50k will go plenty far for an athlete in several of the warmest cities in the country that would be good training bases.

            Then again, your idea of "desirable" likely differs completely from mine.
            hmmm "an athlete" yes, but what if somebody is married with children? Poverty line creeps up pretty quickly in this day and age.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Cooter Brown
              Originally posted by KLocke
              Many of our USA stars live in Southern California. Sadly, they cannot live there on $50k. Will they use a slip knot or hang's man knot?
              $50K won't go far in pretty much every desirable place to live.

              Subtract:
              $10,000 fed taxes
              $7,500 agent 15% cut
              $5,000 coach 10% cut
              $1,200 insurance premium
              $7,500 401k 15% contribution (ha ha)

              and you are left with a bit over $1500 a month. Great. You can make half a house payment (in CA about 20% of a payment).

              Now, if you want to live like a college student or in Bucksnot, MS, then $50K may work for you.

              No athlete with a tiny bit of success on the circuit would go for it.
              I've got to take issue with Karen's math.
              1) There is no agent cut from a contract that they did not negotiate.
              2) There is no issurance premium for athletes - only their dependents.
              3) No one said anything about a 401K

              That leaves $35k per year base take home. Add in prizemoney, appearance money, and bonuses and the VAST majority of athletes in the top 20 in the world do much better than the status quo.

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              • #22
                Karen takes issue with you having an issue : -) I have no math to speak of. Perhaps, you could look closer.

                That is all......

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by gh
                  But here's the true economic bottom line. Let's say Nike funds 114 TUSA people.

                  How many (non-road) people do you think that adidas/new balance/reebok/all the rest will sponsor? Oh, about ZERO! So you effectively impoverish everyone but the established stars.

                  Sorry, dumb idea.
                  Allow me to quote myself. This remains the bottom line. As soon as you introduce socialism into the equation you've killed earning power for too many people.

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                  • #24
                    Sorry, but there are fewer than 114 non-road US athletes with contracts that pay over $20K. As I said before, "The emperor has no clothes."

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                    • #25
                      I have no idea what your emperor allusion means, but the harsh reality is that there are that few is because there are that few who are worth that much to the people paying the bucks. You think adidas wants to take money out of Tyson Gay's pocket and put it into that of a (insert low-popularity event here) instead? I certainly don't.

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                      • #26
                        Your argument was that "socialism" hurts the earning power of too many athletes. I refuted that by pointing out that more athletes would have access to a "living wage" under a "socialist" system.

                        My emperor comment was aimed at the fact that many people refuse to believe how little most elite athletes actually earn.

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                        • #27
                          Your last part is spot-on. But that's the sad reality of the game we're in. Not a lot of money to throw around because of the large numbers of people involved.

                          I'd also be concerned about the dead wood factor, as other nations who give major support to their athletes have discovered. Make them too comfortable while not being a top-end achiever and some people just start coasting.

                          I imagine that many athletes under such a system get to the point (most likely after an Olympics) where they decide to retire, but rather than officially announcing such, go through the motions for another year, basically not training (or having an injury that mysteriously just won't go away) and keep on collecting.

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                          • #28
                            The "dead wood" issue would always be a problem, but never for more than the one year. You don't perform that year and you are out of the funded pool unless you are confirmed by the high performance division due to injury/illness.

                            As to the bigger issue of how we generate revenue, I'll repeat again. USATF controls the most valuable resource in our sport - the USA singlet. And I believe that singlet can be sold for far more dollars than the sport has ever seen IF usatf has the cajones to tell the athletes who aspire to wear it they must step in line.

                            As scary as all the big brother/AAU/socialism talk is, the majority of US athletes who rank in the top 20 in the world would be better off under such a system than the status quo.

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                            • #29
                              Since you have a vested interest in seeing the money spread farther down the line I can understand your passion here, but I think it's blinding you to the harsh reality of the situation.

                              USATF has been selling the jersey rights for years and obviously it's not worth that much. And what it has been worth is getting swallowed up in operating costs of the organization already.

                              It seems apparent to me that the shoes are what matters, given the restrictions on logo size on a jersey anway, and then that gets eaten up by the bib number half the time, which may have another company's name in even bigger letters!

                              And the minute you mandate shoes you've ripped the guts out of the sponsorship opportunities of anybody who isn't on the national team. Who wants to sponsor somebody who doesn't wear your product at the one meet a year (be it OG or WC) where it matters?

                              Not only would you have everybody but the 'official" sponsor walking away from the sport, you'd also have the official sponsor axing the total number of people that they support. Why? Because they always support (to some degree) a goodly number of people who are marginal (or up and coming) because they want to be sure to have them in their stable when the big day comes. Under this system, they no longer have to pay those people because they get them when the time comes anyway because the athlete has no choice.

                              Your system might pay more people a "living wage," but it would also, I fear, drive significant numbers of people away from the sport altogether.

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