Laverty’s notes from the Sportsdesk

What’s the definition of a professional athlete? At one point it seemed easy for me to define. A professional athlete was someone at the pinnacle of their sport, someone paid by a pro sports organization. But, a rather heated argument over the weekend suddenly clouded my view and made me question what it is to be a professional.

Although the first part of my definition may be correct, the second part-someone paid by a pro sports organization-is not.

Can we truly say that athletes like Catriona LeMay Doan or Jeremy Wotherspoon are not professionals? They are the best in the world at what they do, but in their sport but there is no professional stage for them to showcase their talent. There is no National Speed Skating League, but they do get paid for what they do. They receive government funding and corporate sponsorship so they don’t have to worry about work and they can concentrate on training. Does this not sound a lot like a professional athlete?

The argument started over the fact that National Hockey League players are competing at the Winter Games. I argued vehemently that pro athletes have no place in the Olympics because they get paid to play their sport. But, in hindsight to that conversation, Jarome Iginla’s job is no different than Doan’s and Wotherspoon’s. I was going to write this piece about how the Olympic Games was supposed to be a celebration of amateur sport.

But look around the world. On the global scale, is there really such a thing?


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