TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Sept. 29, 2016 — A lone voice

DISCLAIMER: Jim Himes and The Founder were in the same graduating class at Harvard.

Jim Himes is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 4th District in the state of Connecticut.

And, it just so happens, his district includes a number of tremendous scholastic field hockey programs: Greenwich (Conn.) Academy, Darien (Conn.), New Canaan (Conn.) and Westport Staples (Conn.) among them.

Last week, he was the lone dissenting vote in a 415-1 vote to extend tax-free status to bonuses paid out to Rio Olympic medal winners.

His rationale, published in the Connecticut Post, was this: “As problems go, the problem of the tax status of Olympic athletes is not something we should be spending our resources on.”

He’s right.

First and foremost, the action doesn’t benefit every single athlete that went to Rio. The American delegation for the Olympics constituted 558 people; for the Paralympics, 267, including seven guides for visually-impaired athletes. The American teams won 121 Olympic medals and 115 Paralympic medals.

On average, that would mean that only one out of every four Olympian and two out of every five Paralympians would have received medals, leaving a majority of athletes unaffected by the tax change in the first place.

And think of this: there are bonus dollars that going to millionaires on the Olympic team such as members of the men’s basketball team. Meanwhile, there are Olympic hopefuls who have to apply for food stamps in order to get by, or, as was the case for current mixed martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey, lived out of her car.

The reality is that the majority of Olympians find it difficult to make a living competing in the sport they love. It’s time for Congress to use its oversight powers over the U.S. Olympic Committee for more equitable support of athletes in the elite pool in various athletic activities.

Sounds like a job for a Harvard man.

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