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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Responses, Part 1
Are the Olympics improved upon or weakened by the presence of professional athletes?

Here are responses to the above question:

I don't think that professional athletes belong in the winter Olympics. The entire purpose of the Olympic games is to be an international competition of amateur athletes. Bringing in the professional athletes give some countries and advantage over others.
Stephanie Camus

It would seem that the Olympics as all other sporting events has evolved from a event driven by excellence in sport, to yet another mass commercialization event. The presence of professional athletes may well increase sponsorship and higher "ratings" but at the expense of the development of young athletes. As a Canadian, I do feel proud that our own Olympic Hockey Team represents some of the best players in the world. However, are the two weeks set aside from the NHL Season, any different that those put together for the Canada Cup? The development of young college talent and those juniors with amateur status seem cast aside and are not provided with any opportunity to play at the International level. The Olympics seems to be just another event consisting of aging professionals taking an unpaid vacation from their high salaried positions. Ho, hum... where's the remote...

I definitely feel that the Olympics is not the place for professional athletes to compete. The pros have plenty of time to show off their stuff and get paid the big bucks, but the Olympics was more true to itself when only amateurs were allowed to compete. Once they have attained their goals at the Olympics then they can make the decision to turn pro, and get all the endorsements.
Diana Knox

Although it is sometimes difficult in today's athletic climate to distinguish between amateur and professional athletes - in that many amateur athletes often receive various forms of compensation and incentive - we should take exception at having millionaire professionals involved in what always has been, and should be, a celebration of amateur athleticism. Whether it be hockey or basketball, once we bring in professionals we cut out the ability of so many deserving young developing athletes to have a chance at competing on the world's stage.
Edward Danneberg

I feel that the pro's shouldn't be allowed to compete in the games. We see them night and day on TV and they are all rich. They don't have to worry about getting funded or sponsored because the teams they play for take care of them. I believe the Olympics should be for the athletes that have to really work and fight to get there. The pro's are just given the opportunity.
Steve Shaften

It depends on your view. If you think the Olympics is a showcase for the best athletes, then professionals need to be a part, but not just for hockey and basketball...there should be professional track, boxers, skaters, skiers, etc. However, if you view is the Olympics is a showcase of the best amateur athletes, then get rid of the pros. Personally, I think the pros get enough airtime in their various leagues, From what I've observed over the years, the amateurs bring desire to the game. Given the theme this year of "the fire within" the amateur athlete provides more of this inner drive and ambition. It used to be that the Olympics - hockey, basketball, boxing - were all the goal of amateurs to cap their amateur career and to serve as a stepping stone to that great professional contract. I think the pros should stick to their leagues and let the amateurs have center stage for a change.
Dan Knight

Professional athletes have no business at the Olympics.

As a Canadian I think the Olympics have gone WAY overboard! Corrupt Judges, competitors that cannot accept final scores. I think that the professional athletes have definitely weakened the games! Know the primary concern seems to be the endorsements that come of these games. After investing so much time in training, what happens after the fact... somewhat like the football/hockey/basketball stars that could be, should be, would have been if only!

The Olympics should pit the world's best athletes against each other. Whether they are professional or not is irrelevant.
Dean Gadoury

RE: Maki column on Team Canada, Great One. It was a bit distressing here in sunny South Florida to hear the Great One's comments about a conspiracy against Team Canada and that the Americans would love to see Team Canada lose. Wrong, oh Great One, but we forgive you because you are under enormous pressure to deliver and let's face it, your team wasn't delivering until you melted some ice under their skates with your tirade. The 'dream game' everyone wants to see here is Teams U.S. and Canada in the gold medal game. There are a lot of Americans down here cheering Team Canada into the finals. The best hockey in the world comes from North America. Let's prove it. We also cheered for Sale and Pelletier. Wayne, you're still the Greatest.
Rick Catlin
Bradenton, Florida

I would like to say how much I have enjoyed the whole 2002 games, I hope this will encourage more young and old too get up off the couch and do something. However, my main remark is, I gave up watching regular hockey, NHL, due to too much fighting, stopping of the game, for penalties etc., However, with the way the game is played for the Olympics, is real hockey. These guy's and women have to actually play hockey. This what they should be doing in the NHL. After all, they get huge salaries, cry for more, and all they seem to want to do is promote the worst way to play a sport. I know Don Cherry will not agree, but, I know a number of us women who gave up our seats at the hockey rinks, refuse to pay to watch what they now call hockey. I think the NHL should take a long hard look at the rules for the Olympics, if it's stood this test of time, good sportsman ship should be foremost. Then great hockey will be played. Go Canada.
Carolyn Langley

The Olympics just get weaker all the time. The inclusion of more judged sports (virtually all of the snow-boarding and freestyle skiing events) all of which are prone to subjectivity of the type seen in figure skating, very much cheapens the achievement of a gold medal. As for professional athletes, the Olympics was rightly conceived as a venue for amateurs. It is their moment to shine. Professionals have other avenues in which to receive acclaim - and ridiculous amounts of money - for their endeavours. Professionals can afford training and equipment unattainable by most amateurs. It is true that funding of amateur athletes was unbalanced under the old system - with athletes in some countries receiving more resources. However, the solution to this should not have been to increase this imbalance by letting in every millionaire athlete who'd like an Olympic medal to go with his other trophies in the cupboard. The old amateur system, while flawed, was preferrable to what is in place today.
James De Witt

It appears to me the only reason for adding professional athletes to the Olympics is to create a better venue for advertisers to capture higher numbers of viewers. As the NHL is practically dormant during this period the advertisers have picked up at least this many viewers. If the NHL were not dormant Olympic coverage would be significantly reduced as many people would opt to view the NHL instead. Having said this, it means other sports probably have had a better opportunity for coverage which may generate more interest and support at a local level. The danger I see is that the greater the professional penetration and corporate control over content the more the Olympics will resemble a collection of North American sports leagues (focus on physical contact and head to head competition) pushing the other sports back into the shadows.
Peter Miles
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