10-19-2011, 10:47 AM
Folks, the word is AMATEUR, not amature.
10-19-2011, 10:52 AM
I agree that whether or not someone is a true amateur is no longer an issue, because the rules for the Olympics have changed. Compared to other sports, skating has both advantages and disadvantages. Skaters can make a lot of money from sponsors if they're popular and successful, much more than people who compete in obscure events such as biathlons. On the other hand, training expenses, travel, costumes, and such are far more costly for figure skaters. The ability to make money while competing explains why many champions remain in skating for a longer period nowadays. They can get all sorts of financial reward while they're still Olympic-eligible. Michelle was able to make money when she was sixteen. YuNa and Mao Asada are both well-compensated media darlings in their respective countries. Dorothy Hamill couldn't pay her parents back until she turned pro, so she retired from competition at the age of nineteen.
Interesting information on the Japanese system of financing, sorcerer. (And very well expressed! I can't imagine being that articulate in my second language, French.) It's too bad that skaters like Suzuki, Suguri, and Nakano can't get enough financing.
Does anyone know what the system is in Russia nowadays? In the old days, the Soviet Union, East Germany, and other Communist countries completely subsidized their athletes, who were amateur in name only. This is how Katarina Witt was able to stick around for two Olympic cycles and the legendary pairs skater Irina Rodnina for three. Then when the government changed, there was so little help that skaters practically had to smooth out the ice on the rinks themselves, and many skaters and coaches left to work at rinks in other countries. I think the tide has obviously turned again, but I wonder what the extent of government subsidy is these days. Since it's a national goal to excel at Sochi, I'm sure they're devoting everything possible to that end.
Last edited by Olympia; 10-19-2011 at 10:55 AM.
10-19-2011, 11:10 AM
Like I've been saying all along, it's about the competition.
Originally Posted by CARA
Whoever...like Ichiro in professional baseball, being a pro would never tarnish one's image.
Not only earning his living is a right thing, but rather even respected for his own success in such.
So we both agree on that.
But here, when a competition is perceived as an amateur sport (by the Japanese public and in CoyoteChris' first post here only???) in terms of competition itself, and when most of the participants do not get payed for the very participation itself, then asking appearance fee as an exceptional personage doesn't help the image of that athelete.
I'm aware that Evan's mistake is more related to making his fans expect his showing up and cancelling it citing something incomprehensible, but anyways...
10-19-2011, 11:37 AM
Isn't it a matter of sementics between "sponsored" and "employed"? In either case, the value offerred for an athlete's financial benefits is a good image, a higher profile, and goodwill for the company.
10-19-2011, 12:29 PM
I guess the best remedy would be increased transparency on financial arrangement between figure skating federations and skaters. Whether it happens would be another question though.
Originally Posted by sorcerer
10-19-2011, 12:59 PM
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
Either I'm confused or this thread is. Two different things are being talked about --- earning extra money on the side and being paid to compete in an ISU competition. It's the latter that is shocking, at least to me. (I agree with Sorcerer.) Just how common is this?
10-19-2011, 01:47 PM
Your question merits inquiry. I was alarmed when the Russian federation "encouraged" prominent Russian coaches not to train non-Russian skaters back in the last spring. (Remember P/B wanted to stay with Zhulin but ended up in Detroit?) Although the president of Russian federation later "clarified" that it was not "a requirement," I felt that the implication was clear. That kind of remark only carries weight when you are financed by your federation/state. Power of pursestrings is power to control you.
Originally Posted by Olympia
This is one of the main reasons why I am wary of state-sponsored athletic activities. It is true that private financial arrangement such as corporate sponsorship has certain say over an athlete it sponsors. The arrangement, however, is voluntary. I am not so entirely certain "how free/voluntary" the state sponsored athletes are. Examples abound, as I once saw a documentary in which Shen Xue, as a young athlete, described how difficult it was to live apart from her parents to train. I wonder if her parents had a true freedom to say "no," to the Communist Chinese state. For that matter, how much freedom Wenjing SUI's parents had a say over the "true age" of their daughter? I also read a horror story of East German female swimmers who were forced to take steroid to bulk themselves up.
Even such a promient Chinese Tennis pro, Li Na, took 12 years to have finally severed the financial tie with her federation. It is true that they "financially" supported her, but the federation confiscated, I mean, "claimed" 75% of her prize money. And Li Na was able to sever tie only when she became sufficiently prominent as she was the only Chinese woman to have won a grand slam title (2011 French open).
Examples I enumerated above may appear extreme, but totalitarian/oppressive states can exert control over athletes to promote the state/collective interests over the individual interests.
I am stating those as I am apprehensive about the prospect of the former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, is set to become Russian PM again in the near future. For that reason, I am interested in what Russian fans have to say about the fiancial arrangement of the current Russian skaters.
10-19-2011, 04:11 PM
I, too, am surprised (although I do not fault Lysacek for wanting whatever piece of the pie is up for grabs).
Originally Posted by Spun Silver
I wonder if this appearance fee issue goes back to before the Grand Prix, when events like Skate America were locally organized, were sponsored by the USFSA, and were expected to be money-makers for all involved. The USFSA rounded up the usual suspects, invited some international stars, and put on a stand-alone show.
But in the modern era , the ISU has a lot of rules in place. I remember one Skate America in which the field was weak in terms of audience draw and Todd Eldredge volunteered to skate in the gala (for free) just to give the event a ratings boost. The ISU said no dice.
When Michelle Kwan was the big enchilada of U.S. skating, it was assumed (without anyone actually knowing) that she was getting all kinds of perks under the table from the USFSA. The point being, no ‘chelle, no show.
In the present case, I do not think that Lysacek’s participation or lack of it will affect the event’s bottom line, so Evan does not really have any leverage in the deal.
10-19-2011, 04:56 PM
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
I would have expected there to be an ISU rule against it. (There's something wrong with their website so I can't hunt for it... thank heavens!)
10-19-2011, 06:57 PM
Considering who his people are (mainly the same peeps as MK had in the height of her career) it wouldn't surprise me if he have very little personal involvement in the dealing and that he was letting agents/coaches/whoever to negotiate... hence the "extremely trained" comment... in other words "I felt ready, but they told me no go." lol but again we'll never know and folks will vilify one side or the other based on personal biases...
Originally Posted by Mathman
10-19-2011, 07:18 PM
Ah, to only return to the good old days when figure skaters competed for the opportunity of representing their country in international competition. Money, endorsements, and all that stuff just wasn't in the mix, and in my opinion, those skaters were among the greatest to ever lace up skates.
Lysacek sounds as though he's in it for the money. Perhaps he feels entitled to take this view, as he is the reigning Olympic gold medalist. It's disappointing, anyway.
10-19-2011, 09:11 PM
So I'm late to the discussion but here are my thoughts. Evan shouldn't have let the USFSA submit his name for Grand Prix events if he wasn't committed to skating. The USFSA shouldn't have submitted his name with out a firm commitment. It's just bad for the sport, and in the US the figure skating doesn't need any bad news.
As far as the money goes - the prize money, points and prestige should be enough for elite skaters to appear at the Grand Prix events. I heard once that the US may be getting new Sr B level events. I could see a rationale for giving top skaters appearance fees for events like that, as they establish a reputation, but it shouldn't be allowed for Grand Prix level events, IMHO. Regarding use of his image, I would say the the USFSA should have a right to use the image of any skaters scheduled to appear in its events. I know it's a business, but it's also a non profit organization that promotes all level of skating across the country. It's not the same as Coca Cola or even SOI using his image.
I've been a fan of Evan for years, ever since he was a young skater coming up. Sorry to say this does make me think less of him.
10-19-2011, 09:18 PM
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
To argue out of the other side of my mouth: Grand Prix fees are not what they used to be, IIRC. I still agree with ivy, though.
10-19-2011, 09:23 PM
Well, yes and no. Dorothy Hamill won the U.S. novice title at age 12 and promptly signed to skate in a Champions on Ice show at Madison Square Garden. Immediately upon winning the Olympics she signed with Ice Capades, eventually buying it. She famously said, about the 1976 Olympics, "it was either get gold and join Ice Capades or get silver and go back to Connecticut and get a job as a secretary."
Originally Posted by silverpond
Sonja Henie skated with one eye on Holliwood. She was there in a flash after her last Olympic win, and ended up parlaying her skating fame into a fifty million dollar film career. Janet Lynn signed with Ice Follies the instant her "amateur" career ended. Her contract of 1.5 million dollars made her the world's highest paid female athlete.
10-19-2011, 10:14 PM
Yeah the good old days were great, when parents took out 2nd and 3rd mortgages on their homes, worked odd jobs, lived in separate places, practically bankrupted themselves an suffered poor health in some cases so their kid could pursue a dream just long long enough to become good before quitting for lack of funds. All warm fuzzy memories there. Money never came into the mix at all...Give me a break. This looking at the past through rose colored glasses is getting a little precious.
Originally Posted by silverpond
Lysacek seems to be the particular pet target of a fairly large number of people here for actions which are not exclusive to him. If he's guilty of anything, it's misjudging the financial landscape of skating and how he might partake in that. He's not some sort of criminal thug like Mike Tyson. Kwan's a virtual saint so she gets a pass despite the fact the she skipped the GP for years so she could make mountains of cash doing specials while still maintaining her eligibility. She was making more money than the actual declared pros at the time. Kurt Browning also made huge amounts of money as an "amateur". Most of your are probably too young to remember how absolutely HUGE he was 20 years ago. He was a national hero in Canada and pretty darn popular in the US also. Money was being thrown at him like it was nothing. But again, he's a saint and thus above criticism. Yu-Na is of course the second coming and Plushenko is some sort of invincible warrior, so we can't criticize them for making mad amounts of cash either. No, we can only direct all our sanctimonious ire at one person as an indirect outlet for the privately held belief among many that his signature accomplishment was undeserved.
In reality, any skater who makes it to the level of success Evan achieved has to take these financial factors into consideration. That post championship period is likely the peak of their individual earning potential. Everything is downhill from there once the next big name comes along. Every Olympic champ faces the same issues. Deep debt, loyalty to family who sacrificed for you, concern over long term financial security,
Carol Heiss made movies after retiring. Her dad was a baker, not exactly big money. She had to set a foundation for herself. Peggy Fleming made the first sustained big money off her success since Sonja Henie. She had to, her dad literally died to help give her the training she needed to succeed. She had a mother and sisters to help support and a husband in med school. Peggy was the breadwinner for her whole family for years after her OGM. It all looked glamorous, but she was on the road week after week, performing, shooting tv specials, doing press and promotional work. Her memoir details the amount of work she had to do and the strain she felt to honor her family for the sacrifices they made for her. Dorothy Hamill was in much the same boat when she retired, also at 19. They could have all continued competing and, at least in Peggy's case, had an interest in doing so. But money worries set their course. Who knows what Evan's financial motivations are. He may also be looking out family and not just himself.
Not every skater has the skill and talent to go on to become a surgeon like Albright or Thomas. For most, they have forgone enough formal education that it no longer seems like a viable option. Skating is their trade and they have every right to pursue it and make whatever living from it they can manage.
Last edited by jcoates; 10-19-2011 at 10:34 PM.