Marquis Athletes

March 9, 2010

Are Olympic “Poster Children” Selling Out?

I’m not sure about you, but throughout the Vancouver Olympics, my Facebook news feed has been blowing up with people criticizing those chosen as the “Poster Children” for these Games for “selling out.” Who are they talking about? Most of the time, Lindsey Vonn, but I’ve also heard plenty of rumblings about Shaun White. What gives?

Well, for starters, there seems to be this belief–amongst many of my friends on Facebook, as well as the media they’re quoting to bolster their arguments–that the Olympics should be some hallowed, sacred ground for sport. A place where everyone competes for free and without fanfare because they love their sport and they love their country. And those who don’t do this–those who make money on endorsement deals and those who end up on the covers of magazines–are selling out. What do you think?

I think this is ridiculous. Olympic athletes train 8 hours a day for years in order to make the Olympic Team for their country. The Olympics aren’t something you just go an do and do well at–training is your life. And the Olympics are big business–sponsors make lots of money during the Games when you fall in love with an athlete’s story and follow them to the medals stand and later buy the products they endorse. Why shouldn’t the athletes get a piece of that pie?

Many argue that they already get too much. You’ve seen the reports saying how much money Shaun White makes–to that, I have two questions, (1) Who said those reports are accurate? Ever realize the word “estimated” in front of his salary? Shaun White himself and his agent know how much he really makes–the reporters speculating? They’re just guessing. And I bet they’re guessing wrong. True, he’s making gobs of money in comparison to most Olympic athletes, but I doubt he’s making as much as is reported. (2) How much money do you think his sponsors are making off his name, image and likeness? Probably a lot more than they’re paying him–otherwise they wouldn’t be paying him at all. As we’ve seen with the Tiger Woods scandal, when athletes stop making money for their sponsors, they drop them.

Who do we blame? The athletes who don’t get paid unless they show off their sponsors’ logos, or the sponsors who threaten to stop paying them if they don’t do it? Would you work for free just because you loved your job?

Danielle Marquis is a sports agent and founder of Marquis Athletes, LLC. For more information, visit


1 Comment »

  1. As someone in the midst of working for free… point. I would much rather be getting paid. I quite enjoyed and agree with your little rant here, even though if I could see less of Lindsey Vonn I would probably be happier.

    Comment by wordstobumble — March 10, 2010 @ 4:38 am | Reply

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