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Lazy and Overpaid Athletes Ruining Korean Athletics

Posted August. 24, 2009 08:27,   


Korea finished 46th in the men’s marathon at the Berlin Marathon Saturday, with no team member advancing to the finals of any event.

This has put a damper on the country’s hosting of the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu. Many experts say dramatic systemic improvement is needed for the advancement of Korean athletics.

The existing system is being blamed for spoiling athletes. For example, jocks are guaranteed 50 million to 60 million won (40,000 to 48,000 U.S. dollars) per year by provincial and municipal governments as long as they make it to the top three in national or provincial competitions.

Some even take home as much as 100 million won (80,000 dollars) a year while a table tennis player with a global ranking can earn up to just 40 million won (32,000 dollars). In other words, athletes who fall below global standards are receiving much higher pay than those faring well on world stage.

Tough training forces many promising athletes to leave Samsung Electronics or Kolon, which have long supported marathoners as sponsors. Many of the prospects join teams in provincial or municipal governments for an easier life and paycheck. This is the main reason for the disappointing performance of Korean athletes in global competitions.

Critics say the national athletics competition means nothing. Abolishing the event, however, will have serious consequences for Korean sports in the provinces if teams are disbanded.

Therefore, experts say the national competition should award athletes by their records, not by their performance points. In other words, those who fail to match world standards should not receive points even if they come in first. If they break a national record, however, their scores can double or triple.

Those who refuse to undergo strict training should lose their standing in domestic athletics in the interest of rewarding those who perform and not those who simply collect undeserved pay.