It’s not like USA Basketball will miss a beat without him, but when two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors announced that he was going to skip the Rio Olympics to rest a sore knee, it just reinforced the belief that for many professional athletes the Olympics are more like the Pro Bowl than the Super Bowl, a nice consolation for the guys who don’t make it to the Big Dance. The only athletes who rely on the Olympics are the ones in track & field, swimming, gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, etc. And for track athletes, at least, the irony is that they have to cover up what little sponsorship they do have when the world is finally watching.
It is kind of crazy, right? So how’s this for a counter-intuitive “do the opposite” consideration?
Because the Olympics only comes around once every four years, and then so completely dwarf the non-Olympic year competitions in running, rather than help build up the sport, the Games actually restrict interest to their very small window. Thus, as long as the Olympics remain at the top of running’s mountain, the sport will never experience new growth, leaving athletes with no voice, much less a financial interest in the biggest competition that defines their careers.