Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Money for Medals

Free meat for life. A free car. And, of course, a metric arseload of money -- in the neighbourhood of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Olympic athletes who win medals can reap bountiful rewards from their grateful nations; Tracy McCoy has a roundup. Other examples can be found if you poke around a little online, but you get the idea. This is as clear a message as can be sent to athletes: it's all about the medals. We don't care about how hard you've worked all these years, just bring us home a shiny.

What's perverse is the other message being sent: that athletes are somehow insufficiently motivated to win unless you dangle lots of money in front of them. As though that was the only thing holding them back.

The economics are those of trial lawyers who work on contingency (you know, the personal injury lawyers on TV): A big payoff if you win, lots of ramen if you don't.

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