Thanks for the idea of moving this discussion elsewhere as it was getting way off the topic of that other thread.
Yes, Yes, Yes (long sigh)....(deep breath), I wouldn't lament the lack of state support of athletes, artists, the sciences and humanities (directed at knowledge production for the sake of improving the human condition, not destroying life etc.), may i add public broadcasting, and lot's of etc's IF i didn't think it were important, and in the language of our earlier discussion, 'advantageous.'
My hesitation has to do with the fact that words have multiple nuances. When I hear advantage in the context of sports i think, as i said earlier, something measurable (kind of like a handicap but more like i said, give someone 5 yards less to run, just because they are from x country)...something that would clearly impact all those with said advantage. I don't how to measure that something...how to see it in actions so to speak, because with this 'advantage' comes too all the other dimensions of a skater's life, factors that i'll call mitigating factors to said advantage.
Since, clearly, not all the 'advantaged by state support athletes' preform equally well...not all even make it, my second hesitation about the word advantage enters in having to do with the possible mitigating factors to the advantage that would otherwise be derived from state support. Clearly, individual particularlties...like genetics, diet, discipline, and etc. etc are factors. Also, enter one example i gave of personal difficulties...these too might be mitigating the 'advantage' (clear cut, measurable thing) in place. And these particular/personal mitigating factors effect everyone regardless of the system. So then I am at, well let's compare the systems. (before continuing, i need to insert this: Thus, mitigating factors ARE relevant, in my opinion, and I am therefore disagreeing with your contention that 'hardships of parents etc have nothing to do with the question.' In this part of my hesitation about the nuanced meanings of advantage, I am arguing (i.e. IMHO) that mitigating factors (to advantage) include 'personal hardships.' )
Now, before doing that comparison of the two systems, I could just drop the sports related nuance of advantage...my particular intrepetation of advantage -- and just say: state support makes it possible for athletes to train, to compete, thus to excel...and that's an 'advantage' over people without state support...i.e., not reading advantage as clearly measurable (like 5 yards off the 50 yard dash). Fine. I agree. (and won't even question who qualifies for said support and how...i'll just go with, it's a support, thus advantageous). I am not undecided about that at all, and thought I made that clear in 'my lament.'
BUT...i still don't agree with the comparison to the US (i'm not talking about Canada, England, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, nor any other country with a skating federation...i'm just talking about the US)...meaning the comparison that would say: Soviet skaters were advantaged compared to US skaters. While it is true that US skaters did not have the direct state support that the Soviet's had, there are other structures in place in the US that provide all kinds of supports, even if we don't think about them, or even if we don't think about them as supports....the economy is one such strcuture, such that, even working class people are relatively economically priviledged in the US when compared to most other countries in the entire world...that is a kind of advantage (and it directly impacts one's ability to skate)...so that, while Peggy Flemming's mom might not have felt that support (i.e. the economy) directly, it was nonetheless in place and 'supporting' her. I use the personal example as an example...the wider point holds regardless of particular personalities (and i won't even get in to how people get included/excluded by this economy, why some working class people can make it and others cannot etc, or what other structures are in place to support some and disadvantage others).
So, i would say, as i was trying to say earlier, that US and Soviet skaters were differently advantaged. That's all. And the different supports likely impact different segments of the population in different ways. that's all i'm saying. I'm all for state support, as i mentioned in an earlier post (but with all kinds of parenthical if ands and but's....but that really is waaaaayyyy too off topic, even here).
Now, i hear what you say about medals...I'm sure someone actually has run the numbers, but I'm totally willing to assume you are correct...state supported sports win medals (and won't even get into 'what medals mean'...i'll just agree they are won, and that' cool).
ETA: so to be clear: hesitation 1. don't know how to measure advantage; hestitation 2. mitigating factors. hesitation 3. how to compare the relative advantage of state support versus lack of state support in the two cases discussed here, former Soviet Union and US. Underscore word hesitation; note my clarification about a word's nuances. note what i am decided (not undecided about), and note my opinions on what is relevant differ from others (as is to be expected...we all have more or less different 'takes').
and a PS....i also restate my discomfort with the US-Soviet comparison of advantage because i can't erase the legacy of cold war ideology, in which the 'unfair' advantage idea was used often. Underscore/note the word discomfort.