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Sunday February 21, 2010 6:30 pm

Just let them play…today

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, NHL, Olympics,

Jarome IginlaFor some reason, there’s a lot of talk at the Olympics about whether or not NHL players should be part of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Among many reasons is the argument that the Olympics are not meant for “professional” athletes, and NHLers are as professional as it gets in this competition. A little more than half of the men’s ice hockey players play in the NHL, and some of the teams are made up entirely of NHL players.

Amateurs compete in sport less for the money and more for the love of the game; many of the athletes in the Olympics who perform well will receive a monetary prize from their countries. For the Dutch and the Koreans, speed skaters are idols. It’s similar for athletes in the Nordic countries. They’re praised on the ski hills. These athletes train year-round, compete in seasonal events and international tournaments, and are paid to do so. These people are professionals.

What people probably mean is that the Olympics should be a place for those who make less than seven figures a year. The NHL players are professionals, and make many times more money than athletes in other sports, but they’re not the only ones who do. Players from the KHL, SEL, and other leagues are professionals too. Just because NHL games are broadcast in North America and other leagues and sports are not does not make any of them amateurs.

The point is that it’s far too early to debate this. There’s a Summer Olympics still to pass before we can seriously start considering 2014. While the NHL would benefit from not having to shut down their season like they have right now – and continue to generate revenues – they would send a message to the world saying that they are not serious about growing the game internationally. All the arguments for and against the NHL in Sochi have already been made; let’s just give the decision-makers some time to think about it.



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