A Message to Olympians: Get a Job (from The Barnstormer)

As the Spice Girls reminded us why the ‘90s were a wasteland of contrived “music” and The Who belted out CSI theme songs, we bid adieu to the Games of the 30th Olympiad. The Olympic flag was lowered and presented to Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, who as per tradition waved it four times symbolizing the four years we’ll have to wait to care again about the discus, or the floor exercise, or judo. Most Olympians will go back to training in preparation for Rio. Usain Bolt will eat at Hardee’s until his arteries explode. LeBron James will return to South Beach to bask in the sins of ego and pride. Rosie MacLennan will return to her former role as “who?” Televisions will be turned off midday. Bob Costas will disappear. Brian Williams will stop telling us what time it is.

And what of Canada’s efforts? Eighteen medals: one gold, five silver, twelve brown. Neither a success, nor a disappointment. It was typically Canadian. It was average. It was okay. We were just happy to be there. We got to see London. Now comes the post-mortem, where Olympians, coaches, and faux-patriots will call for more funding for the athletes. And in all likelihood, funding will be increased. But I’m arguing that we go the other way on with inevitability. I argue that we should cease all funding for Olympic athletes. Let me repeat that: Cut all Olympic funding to zero.

Own the Podium (OTP), an ambitious government funded initiative was started in 2005 with a goal of Canadian success at the Vancouver 2012 Winter Olympics. And it was somewhat successful, though today all any of us remember of Vancouver is Jon Montgomery drinking a pitcher of beer in Whistler Village and Sidney Crosby scoring on overtime. The federal government funds OTP to the tune of $70 million annually, and divides those monies between the summer ($34M), winter ($22M) and team ($6M) sports. So if we were just to do some quick and admittedly somewhat flawed poet-math, in the four years leading up to the London Games OTP received approximately $136 million dollars, which means that the taxpayers spent $7,555,555.56 per medal. That’s fucking ridiculous.

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