Olympic athletes on their own to fund their costs
Mike Trapp has been a competitive snowboarder for most of his life. He has made his way up the rank after years of hard work, became U.S. snowboarding champion in 2011 and 2012, and completed his 7th season competing on the World Cup team. Mike also made the team USA for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, which was one of his biggest dreams, but came with quite a hefty price tag he had to cover by himself.
The native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said that an average season training costs about $35,000 in equipment, coaching fees, travel and lodging expenses. And the year leading up to the Olympics is even more expensive. In order to score a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, Mike needed to finish in the top three in one of 5 events taking place in Italy, Austria and Slovenia. He was, therefore, training in Italy ahead of World Cup qualifiers in December and January, while his on-snow training began already early in fall.
It took nearly two decades of training and discipline, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars, just for Mike to reach the cusp of Olympic selection. And these expenses were merely to cover on his own since U.S. athletic federations and the Olympic Committee only help to fund a small fraction of U.S. Olympic athletes’ costs.
The United States is one of the only countries with an Olympic committee that is not supported through funding from the federal government. USOC and the various sports’ national governing bodies under the committee have sole control over America’s representation in the games since 1978. USOC is therefore responsible for raising and allocating all of the funding needed for the U.S. to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics. It does this through corporate sponsors, trademark licensing, and broadcast revenue.
Some of the money is distributed to various sports’ national governing bodies to help fund athlete development, for example, ice dancers Rachel and Michael Parson received support from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. But the problem is that the money is allocated based on performance, which leaves some organizations struggling to support their athletes. “U.S. Ski and Snowboard can only fund the A team,” Mike explained.
The A team is fully funded in the U.S. ski team’s budget, which allocates about $100,000 per athlete annually. But, according to U.S. Ski President Tiger Shaw, “there’s a $2 million funding gap in paying for travel costs for B and C team athletes.” Members of the B and C teams are billed $15,000 to $20,000 at the beginning of each season to close the gap. So as a B team member, Mike has worked 2 jobs in the offseason for years to finance his training. “I’m doing this all on my own dime,” he said. “That job keeps the dream alive.”
Like many athletes vying for the Olympics, Mike has also turned to crowdfunding to raise the money needed to fund his goals. In the end, crowdfunding is the best and only solution some athletes have to reach their dreams. And that’s why SportyCo crowdfunding platform is so important.