Fun Fact of the Day: On Monday night, the Olympics diving pool mysteriously turned a bright shade of kelly green. The world diving governing body ran some tests and discovered that the change was because of an algae bloom. The green water is still safe for athletes but the problem should be corrected for today’s events.
Basketball. The US men’s basketball team had a bit of a close call yesterday against Australia. They were behind at halftime for the first time since 2004. Fortunately, they pulled it together in the end with a 98-88 victory thanks to a stellar performance by Carmelo Anthony. At least the US women’s team is still taking care of business. They defeated Serbia yesterday 110-84.
Gymnastics. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura came from back from behind in the last rotation to win his second consecutive gold in the Olympics men’s individual all-around. Ukraine’s Oleg Varniaiev led most of the competition, but finished a close second. In the team event on Monday, Team Ukraine gave up and took zeros because of a late injury, but many suspected it was to preserve Varniaiev’s energy for the individual all-around competition. It still wasn’t enough to defeat Uchimura, who is widely considered the best gymnast of all time. He can add this gold to his collection of 6 other Olympic medals and 6 individual all-around world titles.
Swimming. Team USA came back from behind to win gold in the women’s 4x200m relay, thanks to phenom Katie Ledecky who swam anchor. If you’re keeping track that’s 3 golds and 1 silver in Katie’s 4 races so far this games. She’s only 19 years old.
Spotlight on Pro Olympic Athletes
The Olympics used to be limited to amateur athletes, i.e. athletes that don’t get compensation for athletic performance. But in 1986, they opened up the games to professionals, so that athletes can receive sponsorships and earn a living as they train.
Unfortunately, in America, the NCAA dictates that athletes must retain amateur status to play intercollegiate sports. That means that our young Olympic athletes must make the difficult decision between playing sports in college or turning pro to take advantage of their earning potential. Here’s our spotlight on that tough decision:
Why amateurs? The origin of only allowing amateurs to compete in the Olympics came from Victorian England. British elites wanted to keep sports like rowing away from the lower classes. They thought competitions should be limited to gentlemen competing as a hobby, not poorer folks that would train in sports for a living. This notion was copied by Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy league schools that gave birth to modern American college sports.
What should Olympic athletes choose? Most Olympic athletes get a surge of attention around the games, but don’t otherwise have many endorsement opportunities. Marketable athletes like Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez rescinded their pledges to compete in college, so they can take advantage of their current fame. Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas didn’t go to college either. Instead, they went pro after the London Olympics, spent a year doing endorsements, and then trained back up for the Rio games.
On the other hand, London 2012’s darling Missy Franklin maintained amateur status so that she could swim in college with her friends at Cal. She finally decided to go pro just before these Olympic games, but she lost out on her peak popularity because she has been overshadowed by new superstar Katie Ledecky.
Famous gymnast, turned announcer Nastia Liukin has said that athletes shouldn’t have to choose between making the transition to civilian life and making money.
Seen and Heard
SPORTS & MEDIA
A great loss. John Saunders, one of ESPN’s long-standing studio hosts and play-by-play commentators passed away yesterday. He covered college football, basketball, and the NHL at ESPN for nearly 30 years, including anchoring SportsCenter and hosting The Sports Reporters. He was 61 years old.
Gymnastics. Watch Simone Biles and Aly Raisman compete in the women’s individual all-around. Stream it live at 3pm ET, highlights at 8pm ET on NBC.
Swimming. Tune in to see Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte duke it out in the men’s 200m IM. 10:01pm ET on NBC