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Striving for gold might leave you broke

Samantha Achterberg, a 26 years old U.S. Modern Pentathlon athlete, is often worried about losing her home. Her income is roughly $8,000 per year, which is well below the poverty level of $11,880, according to 2016 U.S. federal income guidelines, and is mostly obtained through donations and gifts. The prospect of finding a new apartment and moving is, therefore, a legitimate concern and cause of constant struggle, that year by year threatens her and many other professional athletes’ career.

Achterberg was the reserve athlete for the U.S.A. Modern Pentathlon 2016 Olympic Team. She was also a Gold National Champion for 3 consecutive years (2015, 2016, 2017) and managed to obtain several outstanding results as a junior. Yet here she is, striving to coop with high expenses, that leaves many elite athletes in precarious, or even dire, financial situations every year.

“Each year our spots are reviewed, so every year you’re at that point, ‘Oh, gosh. Am I going to be able to keep my room? Is our sport going to still get enough money?’” says Achterberg. As she explained, her roommate had to move out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs because she didn’t make the 2016 Olympic team.

In 2015, less than 35% of her travel, competition, and other expenses were covered by Achterberg’s federation, and she received no stipend from her sport’s governing body or the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). The yearly cost for her travel and competition expenses can be up to $23,000, depending on the events in which she participates. What’s left for here?

Olympic games are watched by as many as 5 billion people worldwide and are often the highest hopes and dreams of the world’s top athletes. But underneath the pageantry and athleticism is a stark reality. We are submerged with success stories and news about sport’s stars and their lucrative salaries, but in reality, the race for gold is very expansive and most Olympians struggle to follow it.

“There’s really no being a part-time Olympian anymore,” says Edward G. Williams, a former Olympian, principal attorney, and athlete advocate. As he explains, today’s athletes are expected to train year-round for their sports and they are limited in the jobs they can take because of rigorous training schedules, and the time off needed to compete to maintain their status. Many of them are also very young, so they don’t have much savings.

To make it work, elite athletes use a combination of existing resources and technology. Friends and family often help out, and many times the use of crowdfunding is the best and only solution athletes have. For 2016 Summer Olympics there were as much as 140 campaigns that helped raise almost $750,000 by 7,500 donors.

Crowdfunding is an important aspect of professional athletes lives, especially in early stages of their career. Together, with the help of SportyCo platform, we can help them achieve their goals, and with investment module, there is a chance also for the investors to have something from it. 😉

Sources: Fast Company, Team USA




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