Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is it worth the cost?

I know many Olympian and Olympic hopefuls that have spent their entire life’s savings and are in significant debt because of the cost of their sport.  This year alone I will have spent thousands of dollars on Ice time, supplements, travel and coaching.  This of course does not include the other unexpected expenses like dental fees or basic vehicle necessity that life will slap you with.  I am one of the luckier athletes.  I may not have dental insurance, but I do have health insurance through the United States Olympic Committee that covers most of my basic health costs and I am fortunate enough to spend my summers training at an Olympic Training Center where my living expenses are covered. 

Not all Olympic hopefuls are as fortunate.  Skeleton Athlete Annie O’Shea just recently turned 26 years old and is now not only faced with paying for her housing to participate in Olympic trials along with her expenses for the season, but is also needing to find a way to cover basic insurance.  Can you imagine sliding head first on ice without health insurance? 

Teammate Katelyn Kelly an upcoming bobsled driver has been in and out of Olympic Training Center housing throughout the summer and has spent countless days staying at a friend’s house and has even been caught in town sleeping in her car.  Both she and Annie have spent their summer waitressing 40 hours a week to pay for necessities to allow them to compete at all this season.  How is an athlete supposed to perform at the highest level when they are not getting adequate training and recovery?
These are just two of the many similar stories of the financial sacrifices made by athletes in hope of earning that elusive spot at the Olympic Games.  As difficult as it may be to shell out the cash each year and how stressful it is to not know where you will sleep it  is comforting to know that each and every day no matter what you do anything you can to get closer to the dream. 

I used to tease my teammates of being frugal, but the reality is we can afford only what we need.  We learn to get scrappy and live on very little means.  I love this sport and that is why I do it.  I have never done it for the pay check or lack thereof.  Katelyn and Annie may have a tougher path because of their financial burden, but like me I hope they think the cost is worth the reward.