I was writing a piece for Armory Track before the World Championships about the payouts, which are collectively $8 million, a figure higher than the Masters golf championship. But unlike the Masters, the Worlds has nearly 50 winners. Finish out of the medals and the best you can do is pocket $15,000.
Long story short, if you are an American athlete without a sponsor and you aren’t winning with some frequency, financial realities will keep you from traveling the globe and competing.
Dartmouth’s Adam Nelson — the only Ivy Leaguer to ever win an IAAF World Championship (2005) — has traveled this road before. He has successfully sold sponsorship of himself on eBay. He, along with several U.S. shot putters, took to self-marketing and became a powerful draw for meets not long ago.
Now Nellie has penned a piece describing the financial situation, particularly that of U.S. throwers, as the options are “make a lot of money or make below-poverty money.” He lays out that case that the American system leaves one less prepared and less rewarded for the international stage. Writes Nelson:
“We have more talent that gets identified than any other country in the world. That’s just a fact. Every child in the U.S. gets the opportunity to compete in sports at youth leagues or school sponsored programs. We have a lot of sports competing for kids. Most of our top talent goes to baseball, basketball, and football. The talent we do get, we don’t develop for Olympic/World Championships. We develop for the NCAAs. Then, we don’t support the talent properly. Our training reflects a system that forces us to compete and disrupt our preparation for the majors.
“Most Europeans wouldn’t make it past college in our system in the shot put, because they aren’t throwing far enough to make international meets by the age of 22.”