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Is there no pride in the United States anymore? Is there no pride in representing your country?
Those are questions I believe are hot topics as our society changes. Whether because social networking, technology, growing knowledge or the world beyond, or a sheer lack of respect by upcoming generations, pride in this nation seems to have become, dare I say, casual. Almost fashionable. It is to a point where we only have pride in the red, white, and blue when some major catastrophe happens, a dictator is captured, or when it is the Olympic games. However, I will say, we do come together pretty strong during those moments.
Still, the growing lack of pride and integrity in everything that is whole and right with the land of the free and the home of the brave is alarming.
Which is why when I came across the news blurb on stating that Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen believe Olympic athletes should get paid, it ignited a fire to punch the keys.
As the 2012 Summer Olympics near, the issue for many of our professional athletes that represent our country of extending their usual calendar workload to include competing in the games arises. The human body needs rest. And these professional athletes' bodies are what earns them their living, their livelihood, and yes, their income.
This is the driving argument for Allen and Wade.
Further claims the two argued, which are very valid points, that Olympic duties take them away from personal endeavors such as camps (which are indeed huge income generating programs), charity functions, personal time, and as mentioned above, that valuable rest needed from the previous, and for the upcoming NBA season.
Both then went on to acknowledge the jersey sales and memorabilia which are made and sold off of their Olympic commitment, revenue which are never seen by the athletes.
And finally, Allen and Wade feel the added monetary incentive would help entice more players to want to represent their country.
I'm not dismissing their arguments at all, as part of this great nation and our society is free enterprise and the right to increase ones happiness through wealth.
And well, sports is indeed a business. We can't be naive to that.
However, when did representing our country need to come with monetary value?
When was wearing those initials, U-S-A, across your chest not enough?
When was being the very best in the world at what you do not enough?
There are athletes that make very little compared to Allen and Wade in other not-as-popular sports who still dedicate themselves, sacrifice, and give their talents to this nation. They are willing to do so under lesser circumstances (and in many cases, less luxurious ways) to simply to bring home a gold medal.
I understand the modern athlete is now savvy to business ventures, but once again, seriously?
Without an Olympic stage, to which you, the modern athlete, have an opportunity to expand your "brand", monetary funds will not be possible. The money made through the Olympic channel for USA basketball goes directly to funding youth tournaments, programs, and grassroots programs across the nation.
But let me guess, those programs don't have your name on them and don't benefit you in any way, so it doesn't matter, right?
I hope not.
And as far as feeling slighted because you have to give up rest, personal gain, and personal time to represent your country - I dare you to present that excuse to a member of our military.
And one last point, which Head of USA basketball, Jerry Colangelo, repeatedly addressed in response to Allen and Wade's claims, "representing your country is a choice."
A choice, many hold in high regard, honor, and prestige.
Somewhere along the line, the color green became more important than red, white, and blue.
Somewhere, somehow, we've lost site of that, have taken it for granted, and because of that, we've lost our pride, integrity, and passion for our country.
I would urge Allen, Wade, and those who agree with him to watch the scene from Miracle. A scene which gives me chills every time. Every. Single. Time.
In the scene, USA Hockey coach, Herb Brooks asks his players, "who do you play for?"
Each player responds with their respective collegiate team to which they are then summoned to complete numerous ragged sprints. After doing this multiple times, one student finally gets it, steps up, states his name, and says, "I play for the United States of America".
Priceless. It's a statement that has no value.
Then why are we attempting to place a price tag on it?