Apparently, the federal government feels that U.S. Olympic champions “didn’t do it by themselves”, and as such, has decided that the government is entitled to 35% of their honoraria and the value of the metal in the winning medals. The Washington Times reported that Marco Rubio has introduced legislation to right that indignity.
“We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it,” Rubio said.
But when you think about it, our Olympic athletes really did do it by themselves. These athletes get no financial support from the government at any level, instead, to fund their training, they have to get part time jobs, fundraisers, the odd stipend from the USOC, endorsements from sports related companies, and the prizes from the USOC if they win a medal. Other countries directly support their athletes, such as China, or indirectly, through lottery money in countries such as Great Britain and South Africa. But the U.S.? Nada. Zip. It should be noted that the International Olympic Committee has restrictive bans on “unofficial” sponsors, i.e. those that have not paid tribute to the IOC, including many that are the sole support for many of our athletes. I wonder if the Chinese will be forced to take the name CHINA off their competition uniforms, since they are the sole sponsors of their athletes?
Now the other side of the coin is that we can produce such outstanding athletes without the aid of the government, but it does put them at a decided disadvantage compared to most other countries.
It is unimaginable that the IRS taxes the meager winnings of these athletes, particularly given that they are representatives of the country in what is arguably one of the most spectacular international competitions in the world. The U.S. benefits in prestige and bolsters patriotism in the process, and these athletes ask nothing of the country. Apparently, the feeling isn’t mutual.
Rubio’s bill should pass the Congress unanimously. The government will have plenty of opportunities to tax any future income from endorsements and other employment.
Is it really too much to ask?