Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fortune Mag: A breakdown of Ryan Lochte's income!

$2.3-million is a lot money but he probably "only" gets to keep 50% of it after taxes, agent fees and a good lawyer.

We only have two swimmers in our USA Swimming ranks making this kind of money and one of them is about to cash out. When he does, I don't believe there will be another swimmer who will make that sort of capital for a very long time. The world has caught up and we should probably look towards China for the next "Michael Phelps." Population-wise, for every Michael Phelps we have, China potentially has six of them.

Speaking of the greatest swimmer of all time: both Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps may have lofty goals of growing the sport of swimming but I think they could truly could grow the sport if they used their political muscle to elevate the standard of living of those swimmers on our national team. If more than two swimmers made an affluent wage, people would want to start swimming. Tennis and golf are examples.

Flexing political muscle could include demanding collective bargaining rights between swimmers and the USOC or our two superstars and the rest of the national team refuse to swim. Note, the USOC recently received nearly half-a-billion dollars from the International Olympic Committee so they have the money. Bargaining rights would allow for better compensation via USA Swimming as well.

The article gives an inside look as to how swimming is funded as well and it is not very pretty.

From Fortune Magazine:
FORTUNE -- Americans love to swim: 93 million people do so and spend $1.4 billion on suits every year. For professional swimmers, this means both lucrative sponsorship and a deep-pocketed support organization -- USA Swimming raises about $100 million a year, from its nearly 300,000 members' registration fees, taking a share of about a sixth of that money for its own revenue. Much like running, swimming is a sport in which the elites are supported by the hobbyists. The cut from member registration -- about $16 million in 2011 -- keeps the elites afloat.

Read this line in slo-mo:  "...Swimming is a sport in which the elites are supported by the hobbyists..." No, Mr. Alex Konrad, swimming is a sport where the elite athletes are supported mostly by 12-to-13-year girls with the better part of their donation NOT going to the elite swimmers we produce.


Anonymous said...

"Elite athletes are supported by hobbyists".

I totally agree with this statement and it starts at the club level.

Every club has their own version of "elite" swimmers. Our team provided this small group (about 13) with special gear for Sectional meets (speedo warm-ups, bags, racing suits, caps, etc. - free of charge). Other swimmers on the team never received anything free - not even a swim cap.

The teams build the base to cover costs (pool rental, coaches salaries, etc.), but most swimmers become unimportant once the financial committment has been met.
(Our team asked me to hand out fliers at a specific event only to 9-13 year olds they take less room in the pool - I gave the flyer to anyone who asked).

There are parents who do not want other swimmers swimming with their "elite" kids, but 99.9% of these families would not be able to cover actual costs of the coach and pool rental, therefore, the masses are needed financially, while being excluded in other aspects.

Swim meets need the bodies to make a profit. Part of these kids meet fees support the LSC's and travel expenses for the elite athletes. Most of these kids parents are paying for benefits that their kids will never receive.

Why are masters swim teams on average about $50.00 per month, but club teams on average $150.00 per month?

Parents and kids are being taken advantage of. Some teams require the athletes to buy specific brands of equipment, wear specific team apparel (that is not cheap) - who's benefiting - not the athletes.

People come and go all the time is a statement I heard. There is no real goal to actually retain athletes. Most people do not stick around long enough to understand how USA Swimming really works.

I feel that USA Swimming is nothing more than a Pyramid Scheme. Everyone is encouraged to help build the base which financially supports the sport, but the promised services do not exist. There are exclusionary measures at all levels of the sport (Tara Kirk for example).

I guess the National Team Members are no different - only a small percentage were ever intended to benefit.

Tony Austin said...

Want me to make this a blog post? I can run it just like this or if you could make a suggestion how to improve this situation it may inspire people to act.

Anonymous said...

No - no need to make it a blog post. Sorry - didn't realize the comment was so long.

Anonymous said...

Unlike tennis, golf, running, etc., entry into the world of USA Swimming first requires an athlete to attain a recorded time at a youth level swim meet, unless someone is willing to fudge an entry time.

How many adults do you think would enter a 10K run if they were told that they had to first participate in a kiddy run to get a recorded time? Try telling an adult baseball player that in order to continue in baseball he would need to play in a little league game.

Most people (including swim families) believe that USA Swimming stops when the athlete graduates from high school. Many people do not know about the senior circuit. Many believe it is a kids sport.

This model serves the purpose of USA Swimming - field an Olympic Team. The kids are needed to fund the entire organization. Think of swimming as a conveyor belt: those who show potential go forward and the rejects are discarded - sooo many teens end up HATING the sport and swearing that they are done with it.

Phelps, Lochte, the national team members have all benefited from this system so why rock the boat?
Why would any of these people want more competition? They can refuse to swim, but their replacements are only a phone call away and contracts are in place.

Attaining a spot on the National Team and Olympic Team is about pride and not money.

Does USA Swimming really want to grow the sport? I don't think so, the base - yes(kids + money), but not the sport.

The hobbyists are the kids and the kids are the backbone of USA Swimming

Tony Austin said...

You guys should have done this post - what insightful comments.

Is it me or does USA Swimming need a new management team?

Anonymous said...

A new management team? Depends on the purpose of the corporation.

If the main goal is to make a huge profit and send a team to the olympics - they've succeeded and are being generously rewarded (salaries, travel, entertainment, etc.).

Every company has its collateral damage - it's just part of business.

Read the contracts that these Athletes have to sign. The Athletes Partnership Agreement has a Morality Clause. The athletes are held to higher standards than the administrators.

Second place swimmers at the Olympic Trials in any event other than the 100 and 200 free are not guaranteed a spot on the Olympic Team. Chemistry is a valid reason in choosing relays. (I remember hearing Gary Hall Jr. say that they can keep him off of the relays, but they couldn't take away the 50 free.)

These athletes need to watch out what they say and do because there are clauses that can get them kicked off of the rosters.

Perhaps Phelps and Lochte can make a difference once they retire or perhaps they do not realize that a problem exists. It all comes down to personal experiences.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments I disagree with on many levels (particularly the first anonymous).

On each club there is a graduated dues structure. My guess is those elite athletes that receive the free gear also pay the highest dues. On another level, I would guess they also practice the most.

Let's be real, the purpose of a USA swimming swim club is to produce the best athletes possible. That's why it's not called swim school, summer league, or high school swimming.

At the same token, many responsible USA swimming clubs offer swim schools, offer groups for kids that want to stay in shape for HS swimming, and some even offer seasonal memberships.

Why should we punish the athletes that invest the most time, that bring exposure to the club, and get non swimophytes interested in swimming when they read about them in the paper.

While USA swimming is not perfect, there are many great clubs that work to grow the sport and diversify it's membership. On my club, we have an outreach program (6 swimmers on full scholarship), a swim school, Middle school and High school stay in shape groups as well as an elite program!! All these measures are encouraged by USA swimming and the dues are different for each of these groups.

A proactive/concerned Coach

Tony Austin said...

The second half of USA Swimming's Mission Statement is to grow the sport.

Tell me exactly how your premise will grow the sport and create champions?

Validating those swimmers that are faster, better, have more time to practice creates a sport where only the best can participate. Hence, the sport becomes a strange place that is for "heroes only" rather than for kids at large. Consequently that strategy will create less fans, more bitterness as witnessed here, and less support for programs. (Actually, that is what we are seeing. No wonder the inner city doesn't participate.)

Those that have more talent or a socioeconomic advantages such as a stay at home mom or pop who have the time to take the swimmer to practices should not be the only kids to get the lion's share of resources. What parent would want their kid part of that?

Anonymous said...

To Proactive/concerned coach,

The small group of 13(within a much larger group)did not pay higher fees or practice the most. They each had at least one sectional cut while other members of their group did not.

You wrote, "Why punish the athletes that put in the most time, bring exposure,etc..."?

Why should any athlete be punished?