Over my ten year career as an Olympic athlete, I had a very good experience with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC). However, oftentimes, I didn’t realize how much work was going on behind the scenes of the organization.
Since I retired from sport, I decided to stay involved by volunteering my time. As a result, I’ve learned a lot more about the inner-workings of the USOPC.
For example, I volunteered in Peru during the PanAmerican games and saw how much staff they have and the long hours everyone was working. They are the first people to get up and the last ones to go to bed. They worked through any athlete’s problem with patience and a smile. The staff was kind, friendly, very competent, and willing to do anything they needed so athletes could show up and compete.
When I was an athlete, I did just that. I showed up and competed at these events. I now know how difficult it would be to compete at the same level without the work the staff and volunteers are doing to keep everything else running for us.
The impact that COVID has had on the USOPC
We all know that the summer Olympics were postponed this year. This might have been disappointing for fans. But it presented a massive obstacle for the USOPC. Without the Olympics going off as planned, the companies changed plans and the organization had to make major adjustments to their budget.
While you may be familiar with the idea of professional athletes signing contracts for millions of dollars, that’s not the case with most Olympic athletes. Many are barely making ends meet as they work to cover the expense of training along with the normal living expenses we all have. Some are working multiple jobs just to try to make their Olympic dream a reality.
Delayed payment for the organization and the athletes is more than just a small bump in the road.
Reasons to donate to the USOPC
Olympic athletes need our support right now. If you enjoy watching Team USA and cheering them on during the Olympic year, I urge you to stand behind them and show your support to them if you’re financially able to.
You’re helping people
By donating, not only will you be able to help another human being through a difficult and unexpected time, but you’ll also experience the pleasure of helping members of Team USA on the road to Tokyo.
But remember, it’s not just about the athletes. While we generally like to hear the money we donate is going right to the athlete, it’s important to have quality staff that’s compensated fairly. This allows a great staff to be well equipped to provide all kinds of support to athletes so they can compete at their highest level.
The USOPC helps athletes transition after sport
The Athlete Career and Education Program (ACE) has improved greatly since I retired from my career as a professional athlete. This program provides services such as resume building, financial literacy, career coaching, skills development training, and other services to help active and recently retired athletes.
This program is supporting the human being and not just the athlete. It’s a hard transition to life after sport and the USOPC is very aware of this difficulty. They are working to put programs in place to help address it.
You could get a tax deduction
Depending on your tax situation, you could receive an additional tax deduction for your donation. Make sure you talk to a tax professional with any questions about this.
Contributing does not have to be financial
Financial support is the biggest ask because the USOPC receives no government funding. Instead, they rely on private resources and donations in order to continue funding Team USA.
Financial donations don’t have to be large. Every little bit helps. But, if you aren’t in the position to make a financial donation, consider donating your time or your talent or your network.
Providing access to your network is a very valuable way to contribute. Athletes are always looking for mentoring and trying to build relationships so they can pivot from sport to their next career. Think about the people you know and how they might benefit from knowing about Team USA and the ways they can get involved.
If you want to help and don’t know how, reach out to someone at the USOPC and ask what you can do. There may be something that you’re overlooking that you could assist with.
One more way to help
There are also opportunities to help athletes directly. Some athletes are using crowdfunding platforms while others are offering experiences via AthleteBiz or Airbnb Experiences to earn the money they need to continue competing. If you prefer, find an athlete you want to support and donate directly to them.
Most Olympic athletes are not earning above the poverty line and with events canceled across the globe during 2020, they are hurting for money now more than ever. If you have the means to help—time, talent, or treasure— and you enjoy watching the Olympics when they’re on, I encourage you to support the organization that makes it possible for Team USA to compete.