Industry News:

USOC to Cut Off Money for Roller Sports

Cut in Funding Comes as Inliners Make Big Contribution to Olympics

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Apparently, it's true: No good deed shall go unpunished.

Just as inline skaters prepare to make their greatest contribution to the Olympic Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee is cutting their funding.

The committee has informed USA Roller Sports that it will no longer provide it with cash financing. USA Roller Sports is the national governing body for inline and roller skating.

"If they want our sport to continue to provide a high-caliber of skaters to feed into their system, then we are going to have to have more support," said Richard Hawkins, executive director of USA Roller Sports.

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

News of the cut in funding comes at an awkward time — a month before the start of the Winter Games in Torino, Italy. At the Games, former inline skaters are expected to form the backbone of the powerful U.S. ice speed skating team.

Among the inline luminaries will be Chad Hedrick, Anton Apolo Ohno, Jennifer Rodriguez and Derek Parra.

So far, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has not responded to requests for comment.

Last year, the committee gave roller sports $100,000 — after initially saying it wouldn't. Roller Sports used the money to send inline and roller skaters to world championships.

The committee is cutting travel funding for all of the so-called Pan American sports — sports that are included in the Pan-Am Games, but excluded from the Olympics. Among the sports are karate, squash and water skiing.

The USOC has cut support for Pan Am sports in recent years but will continue to provide health insurance for elite athletes and cash payments (through Operation Gold) for winners of world competitions.

Will U.S. Speedskating Help?

Hawkins said his liaison at the USOC suggests that he turn to U.S. Speedskating, the national governing body for ice speed skating, for help.

U.S. Speedskating could help by providing "tie ins" with its corporate sponsors, Hawkins said. "They could make the intros so at least we could talk to their sponsors."

U.S. Speedskating gets funding from the USOC and corporate sponsors. Its status as an Olympic — and thus, televised — sport makes it attractive to large companies.

USA Roller Sports, on the other hand, is largely supported by membership fees.

With a relatively small budget, it cannot afford to send athletes to world competitions, Hawkins said. As a result, athletes will have to pay their own way, which is likely to be enough to discourage some from even trying out for the world teams.

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(Posted on Jan. 11, 2006)


Talk about this story

Related reading

Go to the Send the Best web site. Send the Best is raising money to help inline speed skaters pay their way to the world championships

Go to more news about inline skating and the Olympics


Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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