Olympic Swimming 2012: Why Missy Franklin Needs to Give Up Her Amateur Status
It’s the age-old dilemma for talented young American athletes: the decision of whether to forgo the college game for a professional contract. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old with perfect grades, has stated and restated her desire to swim in college, but perhaps she should look at her other options.
Even before the 2012 Summer Olympics kick off, she has been the object of much American attention. She has been compared to Natalie Coughlin—whose American record Franklin broke in the 100-meter backstroke at the Olympic Trials—and Michael Phelps.
Franklin won five medals, three of them gold, at the 2011 World Championships. With a similar showing on the Olympic stage, the endorsement deals will come knocking.
Especially in a sport like swimming, money is hard to come by. The money adds up quickly when big names such as Phelps, Coughlin, and now Franklin are thrown around. Earning $1 million is as easy as making a couple of commercials.
“Only a handful of athletes can make $1 million in our sport,” Todd Schmitz, Franklin’s coach, told The Guardian. “We just want to make sure she makes an educated decision. We also want her to understand that it takes a long time in the real world to make $1 million.”
Meanwhile, the allure of college athletics is nowhere near as lucrative.
If Franklin were to go pro, she could continue to swim with whichever coach she chooses, and she could easily pay for any school she wants to attend. In the pool, college competitions are seen as springboards to the Olympic trials, in which Franklin can already compete even without winning NCAA races.
It just makes more sense for her to be a professional, especially if she continues her recent strong performances in London. Just imagine how much money she would be throwing away if she remained an amateur.
With money come other opportunities—and anybody reading this story has plenty of ideas of what they would do with $1 million.
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