Tagged with: athletes awareness disability goals inclusion life sport wheelchair
The big story on today’s internet was finding out that Olympic gold medals are valued at $25,000, while Paralympic gold medals are valued at $5,000. There is a separation and maybe some equality.
In my 7 years run as a Paralympic athlete, I knew that from day one that the standards are high while playing for the red, white and blue. The standards were high when trying out, when making the team and acting accordingly, as well as making sure that I did not participate in illegal performance enhancing drugs. I basically led a straight and narrow and maybe even boring life. But this was my opportunity to be a Paralympic athlete.
I was selected to be one athlete on a team of 12 chosen from a pool of 500. Now being selected was no doubt an honor but it was also very much a unique situation. It was a unique from the stand point that I was to be part of my team’s effort to win a gold medal in Athens, Greece. I did have an intrinsic value to these games. Now, who determines that value? Who determines my economic value? The Athlete does.
I had to raise over $5,000 to support my efforts to be on a US team. The money went to equipment, supplies, clothes, food, and prosthetics. Now this did not include my time off work in which I had to pay bills because I did not have enough vacation time to cover my US exploits. So, basically to save you from all the math, it cost me roughly over $7,500 to be part of my 2004 Paralympic experience. Now that is high value to me. Now in regards to other athletes I am sure that their costs may be different but at the end of the day the experience of being a Paralympic athlete is that you were chosen.
Now, in my time we did not have any commercials, any endorsements to pitch products but we did have some backing from organizations. I also was not in any commercials or promotional tours to pitch Paralympics. I did participate in some media promotions, which probably does not have any financial value. The only organization that could put value on my efforts would be the organization that is sending me to the games, the USOC.
To hear that gold medals are $5,000 for Paralympics but $20,000 for Olympics states that my value is not as much as Olympians. This can only be achieved by having more Paralympic TV coverage and acceptance in our country that views athletic achievement from adaptive sport as equal. Now, we know that only a certain amount of TV coverage went to the Paralympics in comparison. This has to change because once it does then you will see equality in medals at the Paralympics. However, this does not diminish the effort of the hundreds of Paralympians that gave 4 years of commitment and sacrifice. For that there really is no significant dollar value, at least not yet.