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The 1980 Olympics was famously boycotted by the US and a sixty five other countries. However it's not clear to me how the US government was able to prevent their athletes from participating, given that the US is a democracy and doesn't have direct control over neither the US Olympic Committee nor any individual athletes.
So how did the US government manage to make the boycott a success? Was there a law that banned participation in the Olympics?
Enforce is the wrong word to use here, because while the idea may have began with the US government, formally speaking the decision to participate or not rested with each National Olympic Committee. The US, and other Western governments in general, simply persuaded (pressured) their respective NOCs into supporting their foreign policy.
Thus the USOC was addressed by Vice-President Mondale on behalf of President Carter, in his capacity as honorary President of the USOC, at its meeting on 12 April, 1980, when by a vote of 1,604 to 797 the decision was taken not to participate in the games.
Siekmann, R. C. R. "The Boycott of the 1980 Olympic games and Détente." Essays on Human Rights in the Helsinki Process. TMC Asser Instituut, The Hague Google Scholar (1985).
USOC [had] decided not to participate because the President of the United States had declared that the national security of the country was being threatened by international events.
Siekmann, Robert CR. "International sports boycotts: sport, law and politics." Introduction to International and European Sports Law. TMC Asser Press, 2012. 379-419.
That might sound incredible today (after Iraq), but in the context of the Cold War, national security (especially where Russians were involved) was widely perceived to be very compelling reason.
Therefore, the US government did not "enforce" a boycott - the International Olympic Committee did, since (as the Wikipedia page OP linked noted) it would not admit non-NOC sanctioned athletes. Because the USOC was persuaded to agree to a boycott, that excluded US athletes.
Other athletes, sanctioned by their NOC, actually did show up at the Games despite their government's official opposition - including from Puerto Rico, demonstrating that the US government could propose and influence, but did not actually enforce a boycott.
According to these notes from an International Olympic Committee(IOC) executive meeting, it seems the United States Olympic Committee(USOC) agreed to the boycott mostly on their own due to safety concerns:
After the April 24 session, USOC Exec Dir. Miller said that the USOC explained to the IOC/EC that it had taken its decision after obtaining all information possible. He said there was no question of a saction[sic] and the IOC/EC had not criticized them. USOC Pres. Kane emphasized that the IOC recognized the USOC's efforts to resist political pressure but that the USOC could not have decided otherwise when it came to a question of security. Kane added that if there were to be a spectacular change in the international situation, the USOC could change its stand and send a team to Moscow.
It seems that the IOC acknowledged the USOC's attempts to resist political pressure, which implies that there was at least some pressure by the government to stop the American team from participating.
However, the ultimate reason appears to be security. This was a time when the two countries were very hostile to eachother, so a large number of Americans traveling to Moscow wasn't considered the safest thing to do. The USOC also claims that if the situation de-escalated prior to the games, then the USOC would have changed its stance and sent a team, further indicating it was their decision and not the government's.
The other nations probably had similar reasons, though for many smaller nations political pressure was more likely a factor than safety.
During Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the most dramatic moment in Sino-American relations occurred on December 15, 1978, when, following months of secret negotiations, the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced that they would recognize one another and establish official diplomatic relations. As part of the agreement, the United States recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and declared it would withdraw diplomatic recognition from Taiwan (also known as the Republic of China [ROC]).
Prior to 1979, the United States and the People’s Republic of China had never established formal diplomatic relations. In 1949, Chinese Communist Party forces defeated the Government of the Republic of China in the Chinese Civil War and founded the People’s Republic of China, eliminating ROC authority from mainland China. Nonetheless, for the next thirty years, the U.S. Government continued to recognize the Republic of China on Taiwan as the sole legal government over all of China. During that period, the U.S. and PRC Governments had only intermittent contact through forums such as the Sino-U.S. Ambassadorial talks in Warsaw, which began in 1955.
A new era began with a rapprochement during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Nixon and his aide, Henry Kissinger, found ready partners in Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, and Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier, who also wanted to improve Sino-U.S. relations. Their efforts resulted in the Shanghai Communiqué, which laid the basis for future cooperation between the two countries even while acknowledging continuing disagreements on the subject of Taiwan. As part of this rapprochement, the two countries opened liaison offices in one another’s capitals in 1973, a time when Taiwan still had an Embassy in Washington. The liaison offices, which in many ways operated as de facto embassies, represented a significant concession by the People’s Republic of China, which opposed the acceptance of “two Chinas” because that implied both were legitimate governments. The U.S. Government placated the People’s Republic of China, and helped set the stage for normalization, by gradually removing military personnel from Taiwan and scaling back its official contact with the ROC Government.
When Carter took office in January 1977, a significant improvement in relations between Communist China and the United States seemed far from inevitable. Presidents before Nixon had failed to make significant progress in improving relations with the People’s Republic of China. President Nixon’s attempt to normalize relations with China during his second term had been frustrated by the Watergate scandal. The collapse of South Vietnam and the opposition of conservative Republicans created an inhospitable environment for pursuing normalization during Gerald Ford’s presidency any policy shift that could be depicted as appeasing a longstanding communist enemy and abandoning a loyal, anti-communist ally generated significant political resistance.
Soviets pack tough propaganda with their Afghanistan punch
With apologies to no one, the Kremlin is brazening it out in Afghanistan. It insists its intervention there was legal under the United Nations Charter (Article 51 giving nations the right of collective self- defense) and under the Soviet-Afghan treaty of December 1978.
It daily attacks the United States (and also mentions China and Egypt) for allegedly training 5,000 Afghan guerrillas in 12 bases in Pakistan.
It brands as a threat to all of the Indian Ocean Washington's decision to speed up the dispatch to Pakistan of anti-tank, rocket, and other weapons.
"The new Afghan government has clearly announced it wants friendly relations with neighboring countries, including Pakistan," wrote Pravda's New Delhi correspondent Jan. 2, citing "Indian commentaries." Hence, any use of events in Afghanistan to justify US weapons shipments to Pakistan was "baseless."
In short, observers in Moscow have rarely seen a case of such frontal, all-out propaganda to cover a foreign policy move as is now appearing in the Soviet press and on radio and television.
Moscow also is declaring that only its intervention saved Muslim Afghans from attack by "imperialism," implying to Iran and Pakistan that the Soviets are the sole true defenders of the Muslim tradition.
Clearly the Soviet strategy of the moment is fierce verbal counterattacks to match the fanning out of its military forces in Afghanistan itself. The Soviets suggest the US was planning to use Afghan territory for subversion against the USSR, though they advance no "proof" beyond references to Pakistani base camps for Afghan guerrillas.
Some observers here believe the Soviet leadership calculates there is little the United States can really do in retaliation. They suspect that the Soviet troops are in Afghanistan to stay for a long time and that the Kremlin feels the West will prove to have a short memory and return to "business as usual" before long.
Against this, it is said, the Soviets have chosen a poor time for their intervention -- not only because Americans already are concentrating on that part of the world where hostages are being held next door in Iran, but also because of the emotion let loose by the US presidential campaign. As with Angola in 1975-76, the Soviets again are thought likely to strengthen both the incumbent president and right-wing forces around the US.
One specific issue raised here: Did the Soviets consider that SALT II was doomed in the US Senate anyway and hence was not a constraint on Soviet actions? Or does Moscow still want the treaty and think cool heads in Washington will prevail?
As for US grain sales to the Soviet Union, it is thought here that the Kremlin believes domestic farm pressure on the White House will prevent President Carter from halting them. And it is assumed here that Moscow reckons its ability to boycott the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 will prevent the US trying to boycott the Moscow Olympics of this year.
The Other Side of the Miracle on Ice
TWENTY-FIFTH anniversaries are supposed to be celebrated with silver. But for all the fans in or out of Lake Placid, N.Y., who chanted "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" on Feb. 22, 1980, the United States Olympic hockey team's 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union that evening will always be the golden moment that preceded the gold-medal victory over Finland two days later.
Ever since, the red-white-and-blue story has been told and retold. It was recently made into a movie: how Coach Herb Brooks, who died in a one-car accident in 2003, molded a team of mostly Minnesota and Massachusetts collegians into a team that inspired the broadcaster Al Michaels's glorious question: "Do you believe in miracles?"
At the time, nearly a decade before the Soviet Union's collapse, the Soviet side of that Winter Olympic story remained concealed under the red helmets and the red-and-white uniforms of what was generally considered the world's top hockey team. Yes, a team better than any of the N.H.L.'s best.
But now, thanks to Wayne Coffey's "The Boys of Winter" (Crown), a sweet and searching recollection of Brooks and his improbable team, along with an almost shift-by-shift analysis of that game, the Soviets' reaction is finally on record.
In particular, the former Soviet players speak out about what was, in retrospect, the turning point of the game -- Soviet Coach Viktor Tikhonov's benching of the world's premier goaltender of that era, Vladislav Tretiak.
Tretiak was pulled after Mark Johnson's sudden and surprising goal tied the score at 2-2 with one second remaining in the first period.
"The whole team was not happy when Tikhonov made the switch," forward Sergei Makarov told Coffey. "It was the worst moment of Vlady's career. Tikhonov was panicking. He couldn't control himself. That's what it was -- panic."
Tretiak's replacement, Vladimir Myshkin, was a more-than-capable goaltender. In the decisive third game of the Soviets' series with the N.H.L. All-Stars the year before, Myshkin produced a 6-0 shutout. But he was not the great Tretiak, who, with his long arms and long legs, evoked the image of a huge spider.
"Every goal for Vlady was like a tragedy," Makarov said. "If he let up a bad goal, that was it. He didn't like to be screamed at. You didn't need to scream at him. He would shut the door. There would not be any more."
Even with Tretiak on the bench, the Soviets took a 3-2 lead into the third period, and they assumed they would win.
"We were already celebrating," defenseman Valery Vasiliev said. "Nobody can skate with us in the third period."
But after Johnson scored in that period to tie the score at 3-3 and after Mike Eruzione wristed the winning goal past Myshkin, the Soviets lost with Tretiak on the bench -- the decision that has haunted Tikhonov.
"The biggest mistake of my career," Tikhonov told Coffey through an interpreter. "Tretiak always played better after he gave up a goal. The decision was a result of getting caught up in emotions. After Tretiak gave up the rebound and let in the soft goal by Johnson, my blood was boiling. It was my worst mistake, my biggest regret."
According to Tikhonov, his players' worst mistake was their overconfidence after a 10-3 rout of Brooks's team in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden two weeks earlier.
"No matter what we tried," Tikhonov said, "we could not get that 10-3 game out of the players' minds. The players told me it would be no problem. It turned out to be a very big problem."
Tikhonov's team knew it was a cold war enemy. Several weeks before the Games, President Jimmy Carter called for an American boycott of that year's Summer Games in Moscow. The decision came soon after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan.
When the Soviet hockey team arrived at the Olympic Village in Lake Placid, N.Y., the players were lodged in the thin walls of what would be turned into a state prison.
"When Vladimir Petrov sneezed in the next room," Tretiak recalled, "my roommate, Vladimir Krutov, would reply, ɻless you,' without raising his voice."
The American players, meanwhile, slept in trailers that, by Olympic housing standards in Lake Placid, were somewhat roomier and somewhat warmer. And under Brooks's prodding, they were on a mission. "Their eyes were bright, their eyes were burning," Makarov said. "It was team."
But Tikhonov pointed to the failure of Tretiak, and of the big line of Petrov, Boris Mikhailov and Valery Kharlamov. One by one, Tikhonov jabbed a finger in the faces of those four players, saying: "This is your loss! This is your loss!"
On the flight home, Vasiliev grabbed Tikhonov around the neck, saying, "I will kill you right now," before he was pulled away. To the Soviet players, silver medals were meaningless.
"I don't have mine," Makarov said. "I think it is in garbage in Lake Placid jail."
In the cleanup of the Olympic Village, according to "The Boys of Winter," workers found 121 empty vodka bottles in the drop ceilings of the Soviet units.
The Olympic Prison
The exterior of FCI Ray Brook. (Photo: US Dept of Justice/Public Domain)
As construction wrapped up in 1979, signs of trouble emerged. Protestors began standing alongside Olympic torch runs with signs declaring such messages as “Olympic Torch = Freedom, Olympic Prison = Slavery.” A poster with the Olympic rings behind bars appeared throughout town. The national media, from 60 Minutes to the New York Times, began to take note. The answer to Lake Placid’s Olympic dreams would prove more contentious than they had hoped.
A group called Stop the Olympic Prison (STOP) emerged as the face of the anti-prison movement. A coalition of religious and civil rights groups, STOP’s rhetoric combined social justice and anti-racism with a decidedly moralist bent. “Prisons exploit and isolate the poor. They symbolize grief, suffering and destruction,” the organization wrote in one of its initial publications, “This prison violates the spirit of the Olympic Games, one of international humanity, community, and celebration.”
STOP argued that the Olympics Prison would isolate inmates, coming primarily from New York City and Boston, far away from their families and access to legal resources. This rang contrary to the established best practices in penology. The 1967 report of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice stated that “New institutions should…be relatively small, and located as close as possible to the areas from which [they draw their] inmates, probably in or near a city rather in a remote location.” A lawyer from the ACLU stressed this point in a 1979 hearing on the Olympics Prison, declaring, “There is almost no public transportation to Essex County. How many black families will be able to travel all weekend from Harlem to Lake Placid, or from Boston, to spend an hour or two with their sons or brothers?”
The poster for “Stop the Olympic Prison,”designed by Andy Hall and Michael Kroll, produced for the New York Moratorium on Prison Construction and the National Moratorium on Prison Construction, 1979. (Photo: Lincoln Cushing)
In the wake of the 1971 Attica prison rebellion, opponents also raised concerns about the staffing of correctional facilities—namely, the near-universal whiteness of the guards and employees. There was not a single black guard at Attica, a facility with about 61 percent African-American inmates. “(Lake Placid) could turn out to be an Attica,” said Reverend Graham R. Hodges of the Emmanuel Congregational Church in Watertown, New York, “where you have hundreds of black and other minority prisoners guarded by upstate rural white guards, many of whom have no understanding of the people they’re guarding.”
The Bureau of Prisons conceded that while the location was “not an ideal site,” the agency had encountered little success in attempting to place new facilities in urban areas. By the time construction began in Lake Placid, space in federal prison facilities was so limited that the organization was moving prisoners from the Northeast to a federal facility in Sandstone, Minnesota. “Lake Placid may be inconvenient for families in New York or Boston,” a spokesperson acknowledged, “but it sure as hell beats Sandstone.”
How do the benefits compare to the costs?
The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were the only games to produce a surplus, in large part because the city was able to rely on already existing infrastructure.
As the costs of hosting have skyrocketed, revenues cover only a fraction of expenditures. Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics generated $3.6 billion in revenue, compared with over $40 billion in costs, and London’s Summer Games in 2012 generated $5.2 billion compared with $18 billion in costs. What’s more, much of the revenue doesn’t go to the host—the IOC keeps more than half of all television revenue, typically the single largest chunk of money generated by the games.
Impact studies carried out or commissioned by host governments before the games often argue that hosting the event will provide a major economic lift by creating jobs, drawing tourists, and boosting overall economic output. However, research carried out after the games shows that these purported benefits are dubious.
In a study of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, for example, Matheson, along with economists Robert Baumann and Bryan Engelhardt of Massachusetts’s College of the Holy Cross, found a short-term boost [PDF] of seven thousand additional jobs—about one-tenth the number promised by officials—and no long-term increase in employment. As a study by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development explains, the jobs created by Olympics construction are often temporary, and unless the host region is suffering from high unemployment, the jobs mostly go to workers who are already employed, blunting the impact on the broader economy. (Only 10 percent of the forty-eight thousand temporary jobs created during the 2012 London Olympics went to previously unemployed people, according to the study.)
Economists have also found that the impact on tourism is mixed, as the security, crowding, and higher prices that the Olympics bring dissuade many visitors. Barcelona, which hosted in 1992, is cited as a tourism success story, rising from the eleventh to the sixth most popular destination in Europe after the Summer Games there, and Sydney and Vancouver both saw slight increases in tourism after they hosted. But London, Beijing, and Salt Lake City all saw decreases in tourism the years of their Olympics.
Ultimately, there is little evidence for an overall positive economic impact. Boston’s National Bureau of Economic Research has published findings that hosting has a positive impact on a country’s international trade. But economists Stephen Billings of the University of North Carolina and Scott Holladay of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville found no long-term impact of hosting on a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
How did the US government manage to enforce the 1980 boycott of the Olympic Games in Russia? - History
The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program held a conversation May 1 in Washington, DC titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.” The discussion was livestreamed at as.pn/collegesportsfuture. The Aspen Institute discussion explored the implications if NCAA athletes could be paid by outside entities for use of their names, images, and likenesses, like any college student.
While speaking at the Aspen Institute in 2016, NCAA president Mark Emmert raised concerns that University of Texas swimmer Joseph Schooling had recently received a $740,000 bonus from Singapore for winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics. Schooling didn’t just win gold he was Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist and beat the great Michael Phelps.
This payment was perfectly permissible under NCAA rules, which since 2001 have allowed US Olympians to compete in college while pocketing tens of thousands of dollars (and sometimes six figures) from the United States Olympic Committee for winning gold, silver, or bronze. The NCAA added an exception in 2015 to also allow international athletes to receive bonuses.
Still, a college swimmer making nearly three-quarters of a million dollars concerned some NCAA members because, Emmert said, “that’s a little different than 15 grand for the silver medal for the US of A. … The members at that time hadn’t anticipated this phenomenon of like the Singaporean kid getting paid a very large amount.”
Never mind that NCAA rules allow two-sport athletes to be paid professionals in one sport while competing in a different college sport, such as Kyle Parker’s $1.4 million baseball signing bonus while serving as Clemson’s quarterback in 2010. Or that tennis players can receive up to $10,000 per year in prize money (and additional cash on a per-event basis) before or during college. Or that college football players can receive bowl gifts up to $550 in value, which can involve players selecting high-tech electronics from a gift suite or receiving a Visa gift card. Or that schools have student-assistance funds to help athletes financially, including paying five-figure insurance policies for elite athletes who want to protect their professional futures.
Emmert’s description of his membership’s concerns about the swimming bonus reflects the never-ending definition of NCAA amateurism. Amateurism is whatever the NCAA says amateurism is at any particular moment.
As US District Judge Claudia Wilken wrote in her 2014 ruling in the Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit case against the NCAA over the commercialized use of players’ names, images and likenesses: “The association’s current rules demonstrate that, even today, the NCAA does not necessarily adhere to a single definition of amateurism.”
The challenges are adding up for the NCAA both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion. Speaking at a 2017 meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, Emmert released internal NCAA polling showing that among all Americans, 79 percent say major universities value money ahead of college athletes.
“I can’t think of anything 79 percent of Americans agree to,” Emmert said, “but they agree to that.”
Such is the state of college sports. How America’s college sports system got here – the only country in the world to attach a highly-commercialized, multibillion-dollar industry to higher education, thus resulting in ongoing legal challenges and public criticism – is a long story. Three key events help trace the journey.
1. Why NCAA athletes are called student-athletes
The term “student-athlete” is ingrained in the college sports vernacular. NCAA-organized press conferences involve a moderator seeking questions for any of the “student-athletes,” a term that historically comes to define the NCAA’s perceived moral authority and its justification for existence.
It’s a term rooted in legal calculations. Walter Byers, the NCAA’s first executive director, created “student-athlete” in the 1950s to help the NCAA fight against workmen’s compensation insurance claims for injured football players.
“The student-athlete was a term used to try to offset these tendencies for state agencies or other governmental departments to consider a grant-in-aid holder” to be an employee, Byers said in court testimony during the 1990s. Soon, the term “student-athlete” became embedded in all NCAA rules and interpretations.
“Student-athlete” first surfaced when the widow of Ray Dennison, who died from a head injury in 1955 while playing in Colorado for the Fort Lewis A&M Aggies, filed for workmen’s compensation death benefits. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the defendant that Dennison’s widow was not eligible for benefits because the college was “not in the football business.”
“The term student-athlete was deliberately ambiguous,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch wrote in The Atlantic in 2011. “College players were not students at play (which might understate their athletic obligations), nor were they just athletes in college (which might imply they were professionals). That they were high-performance athletes meant they could be forgiven for not meeting the academic standards of their peers that they were students mean they did not have to be compensated, ever, for anything more than the cost of their studies. Student-athlete became the NCAA’s signature term, repeated constantly in and out of courtrooms.”
The student-athlete defense helped the NCAA win – and avoid – numerous liability cases through the years. The most notable win was a lawsuit brought by former Texas Christian University (TCU) running back Kent Waldrep, who was paralyzed in a 1974 football game against the University of Alabama. TCU stopped paying his medical bills after nine months and the Waldrep family coped for years on charity.
Shortly after NCAA Division I schools began carrying catastrophic insurance for football players in 1991, Waldrep sued. He claimed he was an employee of TCU at the time of his injury and covered by workers compensation laws. Waldrep initially won $70 a week for life and medical expenses dating to the accident, but TCU’s insurance carrier appealed.
Finally, in 2000, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Waldrep was not an employee because he and TCU intended for him to participate in sports as a student. As part of its decision, the Texas Supreme Court wrote that a basic purpose of the NCAA was to make the student-athlete an integral part of the student body, and cited the definition of an amateur student-athlete from the NCAA bylaws: “one who engaged in athletics for the education, physical, mental, and social benefits he derives therefrom, and to whom athletics is an avocation.”
The power of the student-athlete label has played out in legal circles and in the public narrative. Today, the NCAA promotes that more than 460,000 student-athletes compete in 24 sports per year, and more than eight in 10 student-athletes will earn a bachelor’s degree. The value of a college degree is viewed very favorably by many Americans, especially as tuition costs continue to skyrocket that causes students to carry college-loan debt well into adulthood.
Yet the money keeps growing in college sports. The combined revenue for the five major conferences (SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12) increased by 266 percent from 2005-15, according to the Knight Commission. In 2015, the 53 public schools from the five major conferences paid their football coaching staffs (530 individuals) a combined $405.5 million, compared to $179.8 million in scholarships to their football players (4,979 individuals).
In recent years, the NCAA changed some rules to allow new benefits for athletes. Schools can expand the value of athletic scholarships to include cash stipends of a couple thousand dollars to cover athletes’ full cost of attendance. The NCAA now lets schools provide unlimited meals to athletes. The Pac-12 in 2014 became the first conference to guarantee athletes who are injured in college competition will have medical expenses covered up to four years by the school the other four major conferences recently agreed to a minimum two-year standard for medical expenses covered after college.
But the criticism for the NCAA hasn’t subsided. The NCAA’s academic mission has increasingly been called into question. Athletes may be receiving degrees, but many examples show that pockets of athletes are not receiving a quality education. Some of them essentially major in eligibility – that is, they take (and are sometimes directed to) easier majors/courses in order to stay on the field.
The most glaring example occurred when the University of North Carolina was found by outside parties to have organized fake classes that enabled dozens of athletes to gain and maintain their eligibility. In a ruling last year that caused considerable confusion and frustration among NCAA members, the NCAA did not penalize North Carolina. The NCAA said no association rules were broken because the fraudulent classes were not available exclusively to athletes other students had access to the courses, too. An independent report commissioned by North Carolina found that of the 3,100 students who took the fake classes over 18 years, 47.4 percent were athletes.
The North Carolina scandal also has played out in state and federal court, where the NCAA argued that it “did not voluntarily assume a legal duty to ensure the academic integrity of courses offered by its member institutions.” The NCAA enforcement model “creates no legal duty to prevent NCAA members from violating NCAA rules,” the association wrote.
North Carolina avoided NCAA penalties by essentially arguing that the NCAA should stay out of irregularities in college courses. This caused many critics to say that the NCAA must decide whether it’s going to continue to be involved in other academic matters, such as:
- Approving or withholding initial NCAA eligibility for players based on their high school transcript and curriculum
- Progress toward degree requirements for college athletes to stay eligible
- Penalties against schools, including postseason bans, if individual teams don’t meet Academic Progress Rate benchmarks showing their players are progressing toward a degree
“Maybe we’ve just reached the point where if a university is going to cheat academically, the public needs to look to the university and university leadership and say, ‘Does winning mean that much to you?’” retired North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, co-counsel in a lawsuit against the NCAA involving the North Carolina scandal, told CBSSports.com in 2016. “Instead, they turn to this outside organization with inconsistent standards and limited resources.”
If the NCAA ever removed itself entirely from academics and became solely an organizer of sporting events, that could pose a significant threat to the association’s current nonprofit model. The entire enterprise is designed around the notion that providing access to an education is sufficient compensation to players for their participation in a multibillion-dollar industry.
After all, the NCAA tells us, these players are student-athletes.
2. 1984 Supreme Court decision shifted the power to conferences
Perhaps more than anyone else, the late Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White saw the challenges coming for the NCAA. White essentially predicted so much of this – the commercialization, the defections for TV cash, the NCAA’s struggles to protect amateurism – when he wrote the dissenting opinion in the landmark NCAA v. Oklahoma Board of Regents case that ended the NCAA’s monopoly over college football television contracts.
“By mitigating what appears to be a clear failure of the free market to serve the ends and goals of higher education,” White wrote in 1984, “the NCAA ensures the continued availability of a unique and valuable product, the very existence of which might well be threatened by unbridled competition in the economic sphere.”
The NCAA once controlled football television – who got the exposure on TV and how the money was distributed to schools. The University of Oklahoma and University of Georgia sued to change the power structure. An appellate court and the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that the NCAA’s control over football TV contracts was illegal.
The Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 decision against the NCAA. The only justice joining White in dissension was William Rehnquist. White warned that the court was making a mistake by “subjugating the NCAA’s educational goals … to the purely competitive commercialism of [an] ‘every school for itself’ approach to television contract bargaining.”
After the decision, schools began merging into larger conferences and ended the once-common practice of independent status. Conferences soon held the power in football – and as football’s popularity grew in America, the sport became the financial engine for athletic departments. Conferences began to negotiate lucrative media rights deals, stage championship games and secure their own bowl games, and ultimately produce college football’s first national championship format.
Today, the conferences now stage the College Football Playoff, which is worth about $470 million annually. Many of them have their own television network. During fiscal year 2017, the SEC distributed on average $41 million to each of its 14 universities, according to USA Today. Ten years ago, the SEC average payout per school was $11 million. The Big Ten Conference is projected to exceed $50 million in its average payout.
|Top 10 Athletic Department Revenue-Makers|
|School||2015-16 Revenue||10-Year Revenue Increase|
|Texas A&M||$194.4 million||175%|
|Ohio State||$170.8 million||63%|
|Source: USA Today Sports|
There’s another legacy of the 1984 ruling: Buried within the NCAA’s landmark loss was a Supreme Court gift that kept on giving for 30 more years. In the middle of the majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens dropped in limited language that states “athletes must not be paid”:
“… moreover, the NCAA seeks to market a particular brand of football – college football. The identification of this ‘product’ with an academic tradition differentiates college football from and makes it more popular than professional sports to which it might otherwise be comparable, such as, for example, minor league baseball. In order to preserve the character and quality of the ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.”
There were just three sentences in a 19,000-word brief. The topic (player compensation) had nothing to do with the issue at hand (football TV contracts). No one testified about player compensation, and Stevens didn’t appear to give much rigorous thought to what he was writing.
Stevens didn’t define what “paid” means. Does that mean salaries from the school, endorsements from outside entities, or checks written as part of scholarship agreements?
Stevens didn’t explain what “required to attend class” means. Does that mean a part-time student or full-time student, or perhaps attend only one class? How would Stevens interpret “required to attend class” today when compared to how frequently NCAA athletes miss school to travel to play in games? In a 2015 survey, Division I men’s basketball players said they spent an average of 1.7 days a week away from campus and missed 2.2 classes. The Wall Street Journal found that eight top-25 men’s basketball teams in 2018 traveled an average of more than 42 days during the season.
Though NCAA v. Oklahoma Board of Regents wasn’t about compensation for college athletes, Stevens’ five words – “athletes must not be paid” – became a valuable source for many NCAA legal victories in future years. That changed when the O’Bannon case challenged the NCAA’s restrictions preventing football and men’s basketball players from being paid for the licensing use of their names, images, and likenesses (NILs).
Wilken, the judge in O’Bannon v. NCAA, concluded that while NCAA v. Oklahoma Board of Regents “gives the NCAA ‘ample latitude’ to adopt rules preserving ‘the revered tradition of amateurism in college sports’ … it does not stand for the sweeping proposition that student-athletes must be barred, both during their college years and forever thereafter, from receiving any monetary compensation for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses.”
Andy Coats, the lawyer for Oklahoma and Georgia in the 1984 Supreme Court case, said it was only a matter of time before players sought a slice of the TV pie.
“They’re saying, ‘Look, we’re generating this money either by our play or the fact you take my image and sell it, and it’s not fair,’” Coats told CBSSports.com in 2014.
The money grew too big. The time had come for legal challenges on behalf of the players.
Tom McMillen, who oversees the athletic director association for the NCAA’s largest division, sums up a critical question this way: If schools could pay players, who would athletic directors predominantly pay – the players or the coaches? Surveys show ADs don’t currently support constraining coaches’ salaries, McMillen said.
“The system has allowed coaches’ compensation to explode so it’s a fair question,” McMillen said. “If that hadn’t happened, I think the pressure on paying athletes would be far less today. You can’t have a market place where one side wins and another side doesn’t win. You can’t expect one side to be constrained forever. I said that in my book in 1991. I think it holds even more true today.”
|Top 10 College Football Coach Salaries|
|Steve Spurrier (Florida), $2.1 million||Nick Saban (Alabama), $11.1 million|
|Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), $2 million||Dabo Swinney (Clemson), $8.5 million|
|Bobby Bowden (Florida State), $1.5 million||Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), $7 million|
|Mack Brown (Texas), $1.5 million||Urban Meyer (Ohio State), $6.4 million|
|Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), $1.3 million||Rich Rodriguez (Arizona), $6 million|
|Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), $1.3 million||Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), $5.7 million|
|Glen Mason (Minnesota), $1.3 million||David Shaw (Stanford), $5.7 million|
|Tommy Tuberville (Auburn), $1.3 million||Tom Herman (Texas), $5.5 millionn|
|Nick Saban (LSU), $1.2 million||Gary Patterson (TCU), $5.1 million|
|Pete Carroll (USC), $1.2 million||Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), $5 million|
|Source: USA Today Sports|
3. Impact of Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA
The next chapter of challenges against the NCAA is still being written. The results will be based in part on the O’Bannon ruling – the legal precedent set, how college athletes are more cognizant of the money around them, and the public’s opinion about amateurism and what it even means.
The O’Bannon case ended up with victories for both sides. The plaintiffs won a decision that certain NCAA amateurism rules violate federal antitrust law. The court determined that those rules constituted an anti-competitive conspiracy by the NCAA schools and conferences to deny men’s basketball and football players monetary value for their NILs. This potentially leaves the NCAA vulnerable for more antitrust challenges.
On the other hand, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Wilken’s remedy to the violations: Allow schools, if they so desire, to pay players up to $5,000 per year while they are in college with payment coming after they leave school. Rejecting the remedy was a win for the NCAA. Today, the NCAA clings to a new definition of amateurism through the O’Bannon appellate decision, which tied educational expenses to athlete compensation.
“The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor it is a quantum leap,” two Ninth Circuit judges wrote in 2015.
Legal threats continue against the NCAA. Two lawsuits that challenge the NCAA’s current compensation limits for athletes continue – including the Martin Jenkins case led by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who brought free agency to the NFL – envision an NCAA in which conferences and/or schools would be free to make their own independent determinations about how to fairly compensate athletes.
Wilken, the judge in O’Bannon, recently ordered the lawsuits to trial starting Dec. 3. She essentially left the NCAA with only two arguments to use at trial: The notion that fans are drawn to college football and basketball “in part due to their perception of amateurism,” and the idea that “paying student-athletes would detract from the integration of academics and athletics in the campus community.” The results of the trial, and inevitable appeals, could dramatically reshape the NCAA.
According to McMillen, 79 percent of athletic directors in the NCAA’s highest football subdivision support players making money off their name for non-athletic related activities, and 26 percent favor giving players the right for athletic-related pursuits. Emmert, the NCAA president, has said the Olympic model – athletes receiving sponsor money in exchange for use of their name, image and likeness – is deserving of serious consideration inside the context of college sports.
“I hate to say this, I think the plaintiff lawyers are slowing this down,” McMillen said. “If you didn’t have a court case now, I think college sports could have addressed this. Now, the lawyers will say they’ve made progress because of the court cases. It’s what comes first – the chicken or the egg? But when a court case’s fundamental principle is tethered to education, it’s a slippery slope no one will touch right now. I think the ADs are more sympathetic to (players making money off their NIL) provided some of their concerns are addressed. They don’t want it to be an abusive recruiting tool.”
The NCAA’s history has been to legally fight most attempts to increase benefits for athletes. The NCAA fought two court cases over expanding the value of the traditional athletic scholarship to include additional money that covers miscellaneous costs of attending college. Now, thousands of NCAA athletes who received traditional scholarships, rather than the new cost-of-attendance version, will be compensated for the difference. Last year, the NCAA and 11 major conferences settled for $208.7 million in the Shawne Alston lawsuit, which was impacted by the O’Bannon decision.
The ongoing NCAA college basketball scandal brought by federal prosecutors reflected, not surprisingly, that under-the-table payments to players by coaches, financial advisors and shoe companies are common in the sport. Three criminal cases are tied to the FBI investigation, which has resulted in 10 arrests, including charges against assistant basketball coaches at Auburn, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Southern California.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report in February, federal documents show an underground recruiting operation that could create NCAA rules issues for at least 20 Division I basketball programs – including Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Southern California, and Alabama – and more than 25 players. The amounts of impermissible benefits reported by Yahoo! Sports for one sports agency ranged from $70 for a lunch with a player’s parents to tens of thousands of dollars and loans to a former North Carolina State player.
“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” Emmert said in a statement in February 2018. “Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.”
Yet the reality is value does exist for some players above their athletic scholarship. That was highlighted in the O’Bannon case. A vice president of videogame maker Electronic Arts Sports testified that his company wants to pay players for the right to use their NILs in popular NCAA videogames that have been discontinued. EA Sports previously used the likeness of players without their permission, resulting in a $60 million settlement with plaintiffs. The average payout was expected to be around $1,600, with some players receiving several thousand dollars depending on how frequently their likeness appeared in the videogame.
A slight majority of American adults (52 percent) still believe a full scholarship is adequate compensation for a college athlete, according to a 2017 nationwide poll by The Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The racial divide was noteworthy: 54 percent of black Americans support paying NCAA athletes based on revenue they generate, whereas only 31 percent of white Americans support the concept.
Gaining public traction is the idea of allowing players to make money if their NIL is sold through merchandise (66 percent of Americans are in favor). A racial gap exists here as well: 89 percent of blacks say athletes should be paid for use of their NIL, while 60 percent of whites are in favor.
Some proponents of paying players argue for a free market that would reallocate the money flowing to coaches, administrators and facility upgrades to the athletes. Others argue for Congress to provide a limited antitrust exemption for college athletic departments so they could impose caps on coach pay and other athletic spending in exchange for athletes to be guaranteed more benefits, including money through use of their NIL.
“My own personal view: There could be ways to do licensing with players and make sure the companies are legit,” McMillen said. “You could set up an independent, voluntary clearinghouse where the licensing staff would negotiate on behalf of all the student-athletes, much like they do in the pros. In taking this step to help elite student-athletes, like Olympic athletes can do today, it might help reduce the ever-growing pressure for universities to pay student-athletes, and that would undermine the whole college sports model.”
In 2014, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick made the rare public case by an AD that college sports could manage group licensing for athletes to be paid immediately. He argued that the NCAA’s problems stem from years of rules that differentiate athletes from the general student body, such as not allowing players to make money off their own name.
“You could have a group-licensing approach and say, OK, this group licensee can do a deal with EA Sports for student-athlete image and likeness, and we’ll go to EA Sports and negotiate it for all of the student-athletes,” Swarbrick told CBSSports.com. “Here’s what it’s worth if you wear the jersey in the EA Sports video(game) and here’s what it’s worth if you don’t. You get a market read on it and you distribute it based on the way all group licenses work.”
Nothing in the NCAA’s history suggests it would proactively take such an approach. Allowing players to be paid by outside entities might require a court ruling, federal legislation and/or a player boycott. Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby predicted in 2015 that the day will come when players decide not to play in a major college sporting event.
The Olympics once passionately believed in the evolving definition of amateurism. Paid professional athletes were not allowed. During the 1980s, the move toward professionalism gradually gained full steam sport by sport over several years. The change was aided in part by the suspicion that athletes from some Eastern Bloc nations were already professionals anyway through full-time support and training by their governments.
The public hasn’t stopped watching the Olympics with professionals. Making money through endorsements while being good at a sport doesn’t seem to hurt interest in the Olympics, which once had the most stringent definition of amateurism. In 1960, athletes who simply had decided to turn pro were no longer amateurs under Olympic rules.
College sports is gradually changing amateurism definitions, too. Times change, as reflected by some NCAA members’ concerns in 2016 about allowing an Olympian to get paid $740,000 while still competing in college. Some money is OK, in the view of NCAA members, but where’s the limit?
If swimmers and gymnasts can be paid for winning at the Olympics, why not basketball and football players for other forms of outside compensation? If $740,000 is deemed too much for Schooling to accept from Singapore while swimming for the University of Texas, why would American swimmer Katie Ledecky making $115,000 from the Olympics be OK to swim at Stanford? And for that matter, since Ledecky made $115,000 from Olympic success, why did NCAA rules prevent her from making endorsement money and cause her to turn pro early?
Once a line has been crossed to pay athletes, what makes one amount acceptable and another unacceptable?
That’s NCAA amateurism – a floating definition that’s always evolving, consistently inconsistent, and forever under scrutiny.
Timeline: Olympics, 1990s - Present Day
By Shmuel Ross and Jennie Wood
Albertville Winter Games
Germany has reunited and the Soviet Union has broken up. In spite of the accompanying turmoil, the German team and Unified team of former Soviet states remain at the top of the rankings.
Norway sweeps the men's cross-country skiing events, thanks to Vegard Ulvang and Bjorn Daehlie.
The U.S. wins five gold medals, all by female athletes: speed-skater Bonnie Blair, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, freestyle skier Donna Weinbrecht, and short track speed skater Cathy Turner.
For the first time in decades, every single nation with an Olympic Committee shows up, even Cuba, North Korea, and South Africa. A record 172 nations participate, represented by 10,563 athletes.
With the door open to professional athletes, the U.S. sends a Dream Team including Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Karl Malone. As expected, they go undefeated.
Carl Lewis wins two more gold medals, bringing his total to eight.
13-year-old Fu Mingxia of China wins the platform diving event, making her the second-youngest person to win an individual gold medal.
World Cup athletes are now allowed to compete in soccer, but only three players over the age of 23 are allowed on each team, effectively making the Olympic event the under-23 championship.
Gymnast Vitaly Scherbo of the Unified Team wins six gold medals in gymnastics.
Cuba wins seven gold medals in boxing, and the first one ever awarded in baseball.
In the end, the Unified Team takes home 112 medals, the United States has 108, and Germany has 82. A total of 64 nations win at least one medal, the highest number yet.
Lillehammer Winter Games
These are the only Winter Games to take place two years after the preceding ones.
It's the Tonya and Nancy show in figure-skating. Nancy Kerrigan gets the silver Tonya Harding gets the notoriety. Ukraine's Oksana Baiul gets the gold.
Vreni Schneider, whose herniated disk had kept her from winning anything in 1992, wins medals in all three alpine skiing events, bringing her total to five.
In speed skating, Norway's Johann Olav Koss wins three gold medals, setting a world record in each event. Dan Jansen finally wins a race, setting a world record in the 1,000m. And Bonnie Blair picks up two more gold medals in the 500m and 1,000m.
Norway, Germany, and Russia are at the top of the final standings.
Muhammad Ali lights the cauldron at the start of the Centennial Games. 179 nations participate 79 win medals.
A pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park kills one person and injures 111, but the Games go on.
America's Michael Johnson wins both the 200m and 400m races France's Marie-José Perec does the same.
Carl Lewis gets his ninth gold medal by winning the long jump.
Amy Van Dyken of the U.S. wins four gold medals in swimming, while Ireland's Michelle Smith wins three golds and a bronze. Smith is accused of using performance-enhancing drugs this remains unproven, but she is suspended in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.
The American women's teams win the first-ever softball and women's soccer events. They also win gymnastics, with the help of Kerri Strug, who nails her second vault despite a sprained ankle.
The United States returns to the top of the standings, followed by Russia and Germany.
Nagano Winter Games
A record 2,177 athletes from 72 countries participate.
Snowboarding, curling, and women's ice hockey are introduced.
Austria's Hermann Maier wipes out on the men's downhill, flying through the air and two retaining fences, but wins two gold medals later in the Games.
Masahiko "Happy" Harada redeems himself from his 1994 failures, helping Japan's ski-jumping team win the gold.
Bjorn Daehlie wins three more gold medals in Nordic skiing, boosting his total to twelve medals (eight gold) overall.
15-year-old American figure skater Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Games.
Ice hockey is open to professionals for the first time, and the Czech Republic wins.
Germany, Norway, and Russia lead the overall rankings.
10,651 athletes (4,069 of them women) from 199 nations participate the only nation excluded is Afghanistan.
North and South Korea enter the stadium under one flag.
Australian Aboriginal Cathy Freeman lights the cauldron at the start of the game, and goes on to win the 400m race.
British rower Steven Redgrave becomes the first athlete to win gold medals in five consecutive Olympics.
The U.S. softball team defends its title Michael Johnson does the same in the 400m race.
17-year-old Ian Thorpe of Australia wins four medals (three gold) in swimming, breaking his own world record in the 400m freestyle.
American Marion Jones wins five track medals, three of them gold.
Russian gymnast Alexei Nemov takes home six medals, as he had done in Atlanta in 1996.
Eric "the Eel" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea is this year's lovable loser, taking 152.72 seconds in the 100m freestyle swim. This is more than twice as long as Pieter van den Hoogenband's gold-winning performance.
There are 165 events for men, 135 for women, and 12 mixed events. Women are excluded from boxing and baseball men are excluded from synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and softball.
The United States, the Russian Federation, and the People's Republic of China lead the medal-winners.
Jacques Rogge replaces Juan Samaranch as president of the IOC.
Salt Lake City Winter Games
These Games are controversial starting about three years before they begin, as it is revealed that several IOC members accepted inappropriately large gifts in exchange for voting to hold the Games in Salt Lake City. At least four IOC members resign, as do top Salt Lake City committee officials, in the midst of several investigations, and the IOC pledges to change the way host cities are chosen.
Also controversial is the United States' decision to include, in the Opening Ceremony, a flag that had been at Ground Zero in New York. This is seen by some as contrary to the Olympic spirit.
These Games are also dominated by doping scandals. Spain's Johann Muehlegg and Russia's Larissa Lazutina and Olga Danilova are disqualified due to darbepoetin use the first two lose gold medals, although all retain medals won before they were tested.
Britain's Alain Baxter similarly loses his bronze slalom medal after a drug test, although the drug detected turns out to be a Vicks inhaler. Unknown to him, it has a different formulation in America than in the UK. A later investigation clears him of all moral guilt, but his medal is not returned.
Russian figure skating pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze win the gold over Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The Canadians protest, the French judge admits to having been pressured to give the Russians a higher ranking, and, in an unprecedented ceremony, the Canadian pair is given gold medals, although the Russians retain theirs.
American Sarah Hughes gives the free-skating performance of a lifetime, nailing two triple-triple combinations and vaulting from fourth-place dark horse to gold medalist. This, too, has some measure of controversy, as a slight change in the judges' placement would have put Russia's Irina Slutkaya ahead, but that protest goes nowhere.
The International Skating Union votes to radically overhaul the scoring system for figure skating and ice dancing in future competitions.
The Canadian men's ice hockey team wins the gold medal, 50 years to the day after the last time they'd done so. Their women's ice hockey team also emerge victorious. In both cases, the Americans take the silver.
Skeleton is an event for the first time since 1948 for a change, John Heaton is not around to compete.
German speed-skater Claudia Pechstein wins two gold medals, taking home a medal in four straight Winter Games. Teammate Georg Hackl gets the silver in luge, becoming the first athlete ever to win five medals in one event. Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen wins all four men's biathlon events.
For the first time since 1968, female athletes are not tested for gender. There are 41 men's events, 34 women's events, and 3 mixed events.
Germany, the United States, and Norway end up with the most medals, with Norway taking home the most golds.
At the 2005 Singapore meeting the IOC decided to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics, the first sports to be dropped since polo in 1936.
Read highlights from the Torino Winter Games, which occured from February 10–26, and see results by country and event.
Controversy continued around Marion Jones, the 2000 Olympic track star, when she announced her retirement from track and field after pleading guilty to Federal charges of using performance-enhancing drugs. Jones also confessed to making false statements during two government drug investigations. In November, the International Association of Athletics Federation decided that Jones must return all medals and money, including the $700,000 prize money, and forfeit all race results since September 1, 2000. Jones is officially suspended from competition until October 7, 2009.
Beijing Summer Games
Human rights activists and government officials propose boycotting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing due to China's economic and military connections to Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced by the civil war.
Concern about Beijing hosting the summer Olympics resurfaced in March 2008 after Chinese police violently cracked down on protests by ethnic Tibetans and Buddhist monks in Lhasa, Tibet.
In April, protests by human rights groups disrupted the Olympic torch progression to Beijing.
Air pollution in Beijing is at least two to three times higher than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization. Medical research by the IOC shows that air pollution will put athletes at risk and may inhibit their performance.
In an attempt to clear air pollution for the Summer Games, Chinese officials called a halt to construction work and quarrying and enforced a 30% emissions reduction for power plants in and around Beijing, effective July 20.
Between March 26 and April 6, Chinese officials arrested 35 members of a criminal ring based in Xinjiang for plotting to kidnap Olympic athletes, journalists, and others. Police found at least 22 pounds of explosives and 8 sticks of dynamite during their raids.
On May 8, 2008, the Olympic torch was carried by climbers to the b.roof of the world,b. reaching the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest at 0920 local time. During the ascent, Tibetan women were the first and last to carry the torch.
On May 19, 2008, the Olympic torch relay was suspended during a three-day national mourning period in honor of those who suffered from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck China on May 12, 2008.
On July 23, 2008, authorities announced that peaceful public demonstrations will be allowed in Ritan Park, Beijing World Park, and Purple Bamboo Park during the 2008 Summer Games. Citizens must be approved by the local public security bureau five days before their intended protest.
On Aug. 8, 2008, the 2008 Summer Games commenced in Beijing with music, dancing, and fireworks at the opening ceremony.
The 2008 Summer Games ended on Aug. 24 with the United States, China, and Russia taking home the most medals. Despite skepticism, the Beijing Games were widely praised as a success.
Vancouver Winter Games
February 12, 2010 through February 28, 2010
On Feb. 12, 2010, shortly before the Games began, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run after his sled left the track and crashed into a pole. As a result of this tragedy, the start for the course was moved further down the track.
While the United States was the winner in the total medal count with 37, Canada's "Own the Podium" initiative proved successful, as Canada shattered its gold ceiling (in two previous Olympics, host Canada failed to win gold), winning 14 gold medals on home soil--a new record for a host country.
American Shaun White delighted snowboard fans with an unnecessary (he had already clinched the gold), but totally spectacular trick, the "Double McTwist 1260," which showcased not only the athlete's talent, but also the bold attitude that is advancing the sport.
In women's figure skating, Kim Yu-Na blew away the competition with grace and precision, and now proudly sports South Korea's first figure skating gold medal. Canada's Joannie Rochette won not only a bronze medal, but also our hearts as she stepped onto the ice, her legs shaking, to compete only four days after the death of her best friend and mother, Therese.
Apolo Anton Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time, winning three medals, bringing his overall medal total to eight.
See results and highlights of the 2010 Vancouver Games.
London Summer Games
July 27, 2012, through August 12, 2012
Some 80,000 people in Olympic Stadium and billions worldwide watched the Opening Ceremony as Britain celebrated its milestones and points of pride, from the Industrial Revolution to its National Health System to Harry Potter, in a high-tech ceremony called The Isles of Wonder directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle. One of the most talked about events featured stunt doubles for James Bond actor Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth jumping from an airplane and parachuting into the stadium.
The 2012 Games were the first in which each of the 205 participating countries sends at least one woman athlete.
Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic medal, becoming the winningest Olympic athlete of all time. He surpassed the record held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina.
Phelps won his 20th medal, a gold in the 200m individual medley.
Phelps ended his Olympic swimming career with another gold medal. He amassed 22 medals in his Olympic career: 18 gold, two silver, and two bronze.
In July and August 2013, Russia's new anti-gay bill sparked international protest and outrage. Athletes throughout the world threatened to boycott the 2014 Olympics in protest. The International Olympic Committee began probing Russia to see how the country would enforce the law during the Olympics. In an effort to do damage control over the controversy, the International Olympic Committee said by late July that it had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."
On July 31, protesters gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York City and called for a boycott of the 2014 Olympics as well as sponsors of the Winter Games by dumping several cases of vodka. On August 10, hundreds gathered in London near the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron and demanded that the government pressure Russia into repealing the law.
On August 1, 2013, Vitaly L. Mutko, Russia's minister of sports, said to R-Sport, a state news agency, that gay athletes were welcome to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, Mutko pointed out that all athletes participating in the games would be expected to obey the new law and that no athlete or attendee could promote any nontraditional sexual orientation.
On Sunday, December 29, 2013, at least sixteen people were killed in a suicide bombing at a railroad station in Volgograd, a city in southern Russia. Nearly three dozen others were wounded. The following day another suicide bombing took place on a trolley bus in the same city. At least ten people were killed and ten others were wounded.
Both explosions came just six weeks before the Winter Olympics were being held in Sochi, 400 miles away from Volgograd. Never has a host country experienced this level of violent terrorism so close to the Olympic Games. During the Olympics, the government has planned for more than 40,000 law enforcement officials to be on hand at the event.
Sochi Winter Games
Russia's anti-gay laws that banned homosexuality, passed in 2012, became a major concern as gay athletes prepared for the Winter Games. Nations called for boycotts and heads of state chose not to attend in protest. Russia assured the IOC that no athletes would be arrested as long as they "abided by the law." Openly gay Olympians BillieJean King and Caitlin Cahow were named to the U.S. opening ceremonies delegation.
Unfinished construction, sky jumps that were too big and a malfunctioning light show during the opening ceremonies were just a few of many issues at the Sochi Olympics, which led to the hashtag #sochiproblems showing up all over Twitter.
Russian protest band Pussy Riot used the games to protest Putin and the Russian government. They were attacked by Cossack police while singing their song "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland."
Pyeongchang Winter Games
In December2017, Russia was banned from competing in the Olympics after several of their athletes were caught doping. 169 Russian athletes were invited to compete independently under the IOC flag.
How did the US government manage to enforce the 1980 boycott of the Olympic Games in Russia? - History
The game had all the hype imaginable, with political and social implications written all over it. The "Iron Range" line of Pavelich, Harrington and Schneider got the Americans on the board. Down 1-0, Pavelich fed Schneider for a nice slap shot that found the top corner. The Russians answered back three minutes later only to see Mark Johnson tie it up with just seconds to go in the period. When they returned following the intermission, the U.S. team was shocked to see that Soviet coach Victor Tikhanov had replaced Tretiak in goal with backup goaltender Vladimir Myshkin. While it would appear the great bear was wounded, the Soviets came back to take the lead and outshot the Americans 30-10 through two periods. Johnson scored his second of the game at 8:39 of the third period to tie it at 3-3, setting up the heroics for the Iron Rangers.
Midway through the third, Schneider dumped the puck into the Russian zone and Harrington dug it out to his old UMD wing mate Mark Pavelich. Pavelich then floated a perfect pass to the top of the circle where team captain Mike Eruzione fired home "the shot heard round the world." The final 10 minutes were probably the longest in U.S. hockey history, but the Americans held on as goalie Jim Craig played brilliantly down the stretch. Then, as the crowd counted down the final seconds, Al Michaels shouted "Do you believe in miracles? . Yes!" And with that the Americans had made it into the gold medal game.
As the players went nuts on the ice, Brooks, ever the psychologist, quickly put his players back in their place. He screamed at them not to get too cocky, and that they were just lucky, and hadn't won anything yet. The next day at practice, Brooks put the team through a grueling workout, constantly reinforcing to his men that he was not their friend, and they had proved nothing up to that point. This was part of his plan, to get the players to despise him and force them to rally amongst themselves to become stronger.
In the final game the U.S. would face Finland, a team that had beaten the Czechs in the other semifinal. It was during this game that Brooks would utter the famous words: "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours." His team would respond, big time.
Despite being down 1-0 early in the second period, Steve Christoff got the Americans on the board at 4:39 with a nice wrister down low. The Finns regained the lead, however, and went into the third up 2-1. After an emotional speech between the intermission from Brooks, reminding players ever so eloquently that they would regret this moment for the rest of their lives if they let it slip away, the U.S. came out inspired and tried to make history. The hero this time was Phil Verchota, who took a Dave Christian pass in the left circle and found the back of the net at 2:25. With that, the Americans started to smell blood and immediately went for the jugular. Just three minutes later, Robbie McClanahan went five-hole with a Mark Johnson pass to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead. Johnson then saved the day by adding a shorthanded backhand goal of his own just minutes later to give the U.S. a two-goal safety net. From there Jim Craig just hung on for the final few minutes of the game as Al Michaels this time screamed "This impossible dream comes true!" It was suddenly pandemonium in Lake Placid, as the team threw their sticks into the crowd and formed a human pile at center ice to the chants of "USA! USA!"
Many of the players were visibly moved by what they had done, as evidenced during the singing of the National Anthem where the entire team gathered on the top podium. The country went crazy with a newly found sense of national pride. Sports Illustrated named the team as "Sportsmen of the Year." Life Magazine declared it as the "Sports Achievement of the Decade," and ABC Sports announcer Jim McCay went on to call it the "greatest upset in the history of sports."
Mark Johnson, son of ex-Gopher "Badger" Bob Johnson, led the team in scoring in exhibition games and the Olympics. The line of Schneider-Pavelich-Harrington led the team's four lines in scoring with 17 goals and 20 assists in seven Olympic tournament games. Brilliant goaltending by Jim Craig, who played all seven contests, was a big factor in the victory, as was the stellar play by defensemen Dave Christian, Ken Morrow, Mike Ramsey, Neal Broten and Bill Baker.
A Lasting Legacy
A grateful nation hailed the team as heroes. A visit to the White House followed, as well as appearances in cities across the land. Covers of Wheaties boxes, magazines, awards, honors, speaking engagements and more followed for all the players. In the heart of the Cold War, beating the mighty Soviets was something bigger than they could've ever imagined.
Looking back, the icy miracle was achieved by enormous ambition, coupled with great passing, checking, speed, and sound puck-control. Shrewdly, Brooks refused to play the typical dump-and-chase style of hockey.
"I didn't want the team throwing the puck away with no reason," said Brooks, who went on to coach the New York Rangers that next season. "That's stupid. It's the same as punting on first down. The style I wanted combined the determined checking of the North American game and the best features of the European game."
"They were really mentally tough and goal-oriented," added Brooks. "They came from all different walks of life, many having competed against one another, but they came together and grew to be a real close team. I pushed this team really hard, I mean I really pushed them. But they had the ability to answer the bell. Our style of play was probably different than anything in North America. We adopted more of a hybrid style of play - a bit of the Canadian school and a little bit of the European school. The players took to it like ducks to water, and they really had a lot of fun playing it. We were a fast, creative team that played extremely disciplined without the puck. Throughout the Olympics, they had a great resiliency about them. I mean they came from behind six or seven times to win. They just kept moving and working and digging."
After the Olympics, all of the players went their separate ways. Many went on to play professional hockey, while others went into business and began their careers elsewhere. They would not al be reunited again, however, until 2002, when the team was brought together in an emotional gala to collectively light the Olympic torch at the Winter Games at Salt Lake City.
Most importantly perhaps. was the fact that the historic win brought hockey to the front-page of newspapers everywhere, and forever opened the door to the NHL for American-born players from below the 49th parallel. The impact of the event was far reaching, and is still being felt today.
Since that milestone game in 1980, hockey in the United States has grown significantly at the professional and amateur levels.
Massacre begins at Munich Olympics
During the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich, in the early morning of September 5, a group of Palestinian terrorists storms the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli athletes, killing two and taking nine others hostage. The terrorists were part of a group known as Black September, in return for the release of the hostages, they demanded that Israel release over 230 Arab prisoners being held in Israeli jails and two German terrorists. In an ensuing shootout at the Munich airport, the nine Israeli hostages were killed along with five terrorists and one West German policeman. Olympic competition was suspended for 24 hours to hold memorial services for the slain athletes.
The Munich Olympics opened on August 26, 1972, with 195 events and 7,173 athletes representing 121 countries. On the morning of September 5, Palestinian terrorists in ski masks ambushed the Israeli team. After negotiations to free the nine Israelis broke down, the terrorists took the hostages to the Munich airport. Once there, German police opened fire from rooftops and killed three of the terrorists. A gun battle erupted and left the hostages, two more Palestinians and a policeman dead.
After a memorial service was held for the athletes at the main Olympic stadium, International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage ordered that the games continue, to show that the terrorists hadn’t won. Although the tragedy deeply marred the games, there were numerous moments of spectacular athletic achievement, including American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals and teenage Russian gymnast Olga Korbut’s two dramatic gold-medal victories.