Why Olympians Need To Stop Selling Their Medals for the Wrong Reason
By Frank Yin
Jesse Owens’ gold medal from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was sold for about $1.5 million in 2019. Owens had won many track and field events as Hitler watched. Although Owens' medal sold for a large sum of money, Olympic medals are generally considered worthless. However, most U.S. olympians are selling their medals for less than $100,000.
Olympic medals hold a lot of sentimental value from the hardships that athletes have endured. Despite the fact that the material value of most medals are not worth a lot, they are auctioned off for more money due to their rarity. Although there is an undefinable amount of value that medals hold to athletes, athletes continue to sell medals for prices far from worthless.
Some olympians are forced to sell their medals. Athletes are given $15,000 to $37,500 from the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee depending on the medal they win. But olympians run into financial and health issues after their athletic career. For example, Mark Wells sold his medal for surgery, Mark Pavelich sold his to cope with mental health issues, and Greg Louganis tried to sell his to save his house. Olympians receive grants, tuition assistance, and health insurance, but they don’t last in retirement.
Some olympians have sold their medals for charity or disappointment of falling short of gold. But this is not very common. These olympians are willingly selling their medals and will not feel the devastating effect of losing them.
Olympic medals are the dreams of many athletes and by purchasing some of their medals, we are taking away our olympians’ pride. We make some olympians feel left in depression like they have wasted their hard work. There should be more mental, financial, and health support for athletes after their retirement.