Should Athletes Get Paid for the Olympics?

Dwayne Wade

Game recognizes game. Always has, always will. And as such, Dwyane Wade doesn't actually need to be privy to any bottom-line numbers, financial or otherwise, to understand the game is now global and the proceeds deriving from it all never more compelling.

A two-time-Olympian and a surefire member of the 2012 summer team bound for London, Wade went on the offensive this week, conjuring up testimonials as to why he feels NBA players should be paid for their added season of labor, particularly given the business of taking the game international has led to such overwhelming profitability for NBA brass and all their many sponsors. 

“It’s a lot of things you do for the Olympics--- a lot of jerseys you sell,” said Wade. “We play the whole summer; and the biggest thing is it’s taxing on your body. I do think guys should be compensated, just like I think college players should be. Unfortunately, it’s not there, but I think it should be.”  

But---with politics and the powers-that-be being what they are--- Wade has since backtracked a bit from what’s certain to have been his most heartfelt thoughts.  As the son of a born-again, Baptist minister, one would think Wade would know by now the truth can set you free. Alas, it is what it is, though I can’t for the life of me quite grasp why the notion of a man wanting to be to at least discuss the idea of sharing in the fruits of labor strike some as so foolhardy.

“I think jersey licensing could be a way,” he said, of splitting the windfall. “There’s gotta be some way… that’s something they’ve got to worry about.”

As you might expect, critics instantly charged Wade’s way of thinking is born of the same greed is more, all-me, all-the-time, totally selfish way of thinking that has longed damaged the sport’s aesthetics.  Just as quickly, they point to the fact Wade grossed somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million in earnings last year and judgmentally ask ‘when is enough, enough. ‘

Now, while we’re on the subject of greed and profits, ask yourself the same question regarding the NBA.  Ask yourself what their profit margins were last year and how much more they will be by the end of this year when all that added loot from this summer’s extra season starring none other than Dwyane Wade ends.

Admit it, the Olympics---at least where the U.S. and our use of pro-level athletes is concerned--- cease to be about just patriotism and love of country long ago. The arrival of Jordan, Magic, Bird and Barkley back in ‘82 signaled a shift in strategy dominated as much about dollars and cents as wins and loses.

And while we’re being honest, admit that the DWade brand has grown to a level that almost rivals the popularity of the NBA itself. Admit that as the sole source of equity in Dwyane Wade enterprises he has the same obligations to himself that the NBA and all the other hugely profiting corporations have to their bottom line.

It’s only the American way.