Making the situation all the more difficult for U.S. athletes: there’s no direct federal support, as is the case in most other nations. Instead, top-tier competitors can only hope to receive small stipends – often as little as $400 a month — to cover expenses, with the money generally coming from the privately funded governing boards of their sports or through sponsorships. And those who are just starting their Olympic careers can’t even be guaranteed that level of assistance, so they often take on whatever low-wage jobs they can find or rely upon the Bank of Mom and Dad.
As the Olympics went on and I watched some truly obscure sports, I found myself constantly asking questions like “How the heck does a women’s water polo player make a living?” I thought I had a brilliant idea for a post to research how these obscure athletes make a living.
Too bad the answer wasn’t very interesting: most of them don’t make a living from their sport. Either Mom and Dad support them, or they take a low wage job they can do on the side while they train.
So for every Gaby Douglas, there are hundreds of athletes barely scraping by.