'Entitlement culture' of athletes targeted
Sports grants:In revising how money and support is delivered to our high-end athletes, the layered document presented yesterday for the Irish Sports Council by KKP Management Consultants seeks to focus on Olympic athletes, shift the emphasis for funding and the administration of those funds to governing bodies and invest in athletes based on performance and potential.
On the face of it those are reasonable things to do although just how many governing bodies are ‘fit for purpose’ and capable of disbursing large amounts of money is a moot point.
A cynic might also read the document and see cost-cutting at every turn. It is not explicitly mentioned but given the budget for sport has been cut by 5 per cent each year over the last several years and will be cut by the same amount again in the next Budget, the combination of accountability and less money being moved to the governing bodies could be viewed as much political as practical.
Still, if streamlining has become part of life, the analysis does offer ways of improving the management of potential medal winners and focuses on several aspects of the ‘sports grant’ life that can be improved.
The study takes issue with athletes who have been characterised as living in an “entitlement culture” whereby they come to view funding as a way of maintaining a lifestyle rather than an investment geared towards pushing them towards the pinnacle of their sport.
The old carding scheme, says the report, “can be and has been used to support athletes who are deemed unlikely to achieve anything more of progress towards a podium position but for whom funding has become a way of life.”
In essence they say that the governing bodies must “line up” behind their “very talented” athletes. There is no mention of giving the “very talented” athlete more money but explicitly targets the perceived dead wood, which the governing bodies will have responsibility for removing.
The three levels of funding of the old carding system should be replaced with a more flexible banding scheme with more references to “individual and household income”, it explains.
In other words the cost of living has come down so athletes should need less money for their day to day expenses.
They propose to remove the Performance Incentive Payments (PIP), which are termed generous. So the Katie Taylor, John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlans of this Olympic world won’t get their flat €10,000 bonus for winning an Olympic medal. Instead they will get “linked flexibility to build forms of incentive based remuneration”. The proposal is that the governing body will decide what that is.
A report published by Forbes during the Olympic Games in August cited what other countries pay out. For American athletes a gold medal was worth €20,000, silver and bronze €12,000 and 8,000, respectively. Italy paid more than €143,000 for a gold medal and Russia €105,000, while neighbouring Ukraine handed over €80,000 for gold, €60,000 for silver and €40,000 for bronze. Even Ghana promised its gold medal winners a payout of €15,000. Host nation Britain did not pay out bonuses for medal winners.