Missy Franklin is being called the golden girl of swimming. I only refer to her as a girl, because this Olympic gold medalist (100m backstroke) is only 17 years old. This girl’s got talent! After taking home a second medal, the bronze in the 200m freestyle, Franklin and her parents announced that Missy was not going pro.
Staying an amateur means that Franklin will finish up high school and compete with her swim team. She’ll also go on to swim in college. What she gives up is the potential to make a nice amount of money through endorsements. Some say Franklin could earn $250,000 to $750,000 in sponsorships. USA Today claims she could make upwards of several million dollars.
According to the IOC, as an amateur, Franklin is eligible to receive the $25,000 prize money for winning gold in London. She also may be able to accept the prize money ($100,000) from USA Swimming for her accomplishments.
In the press conference, Franklin’s parents acknowledge that if the money was right (over $1 million), they’d have to talk to Missy about forgoing college. Her father explained that with that kind of money Missy could pay for her children’s college educations or a house when she gets married. I vaguely remember Phelps parents giving him similar advice…oh wait, that didn’t (and wouldn’t ever) happen.
I could do without comments bracing this 17-year old for marriage and motherhood, but overall I’m thrilled that this story is so popular. This is the first time I’ve seen the professional/amateur status of a female athlete being such a hot topic. The other day I caught a sports radio program discussing her situation. I did a double take. These guys were discussing women’s swimming like it was a business, just like they do for the NFL and NBA drafts. It was awesome.
During their discussion, both points of view were presented. The first reporter commend her for choosing the college route. He pointed out that it is much harder for a woman athlete to keep making the big bucks year after year, so eventually she’ll probably have to fall back on her college degree.
The second reporter argued that individuals go to college to get the credentials needed to make as much money as they can in their future career. She could be making that now so why put it on hold for four years to get a job where you’ll make less? He also pointed out that Franklin can always go back to school after her Olympic career is over.
I agree with reporter #2. If the endorsements do hit that magic number — preferably more than what her college scholarship is worth — Franklin should just take the money and swim. College is a wonderful experience, but so is traveling the world, swimming with solid competitors, breaking world records and making a chunk of change to use however she pleases in the future.
Please share your thoughts. Should Franklin go pro or is staying an amateur the right decision?