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Face Off 2/13 – Should professionals compete in the Olympics?


Last I heard, the Olympics were supposed to be a collective gathering of the world’s greatest athletes; so what’s the big deal with professionals being allowed to play?The whole theory of the word “professional” has been questioned in regard to the Olympics for a long time. In ice hockey, “professionals” were supposedly first allowed to play in the Nagano Games of 1998.

Yeah, sure, the Russians never had “professionals” playing ice hockey for their country before then; their players were just doing their duties as part of the “Russian Army” or whatever they wanted to call it, but everyone knows they were not amateurs. And if the United States ice hockey team of 1980 was playing against Russian amateurs in the semifinals when they completed the “Miracle on Ice,” then what’s the big deal?

I’d rather have the games decided on the field, rather than argue about what could’ve been or should’ve been, like the arguing that goes on at the end of every Division I college football season. Besides that, “professional” athletes have been participating in the Olympics for some time now, not just for the “Russian Army.” Anyone who argues that Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Karch Kiraly were not professional athletes is just another agent/promoter trying to make an extra buck on somebody else’s talent.

The International Olympics Committee did themselves a favor they should have done a long time ago when they “officially” announced that professional athletes would be allowed to compete in the Olympics. Now the Olympics can truly be called a gathering of the world’s greatest athletes.

  • Chris Lemke


The spirit of the Olympic Games is what continues to make the event a cherished occurrence. The Games were created with amateur athletes in mind. Let the professionals have their leagues. Amateurs aren’t competing for the great monetary rewards or financial security.

The ancient Greeks prided themselves on the integrity of the Games and the excellence of winning. Once the sponsors and paid athletes joined the Games, they started to lose some of the luster. Why is steroid use up? The lure of professionalism and the desire to compete with athletes who do this for a living.

Plus, the addition of professionals has added little to the competitiveness of the Olympics. Where is the challenge and drama when the NBA’s greatest, who are paid millions and pampered just as much, take on some amateurs from small African nations? Or anyone else for that matter? The playing field has been greatly skewed, and the only way to regain some semblance of balance is to eliminate the professionals.Look at hockey. What is the point of having professionals play in the Salt Lake Games? Jaromir Jagr already plays Brendan Shanahan a couple of times a year. Throwing in the professionals and making them play with their respective countries is just jumbling the talent pool. It isn’t adding anything that you couldn’t see in the NHL.

If professional athletes are adding a higher level of competition or something new and exciting to the Games, why bring them into the mix? I say leave the Olympics for the amateurs so the Games can regain some of the luster and innocence that has been lost.

  • Anthony Gagliano