As I watched baseball's trading deadline pass last week with all this Olympic knowledge on my brain, a new idea raced through my head.
What would happen if countries could deal their own Olympic superstars?
How much would somebody like Michael Phelps be worth if he were put on the open market? What would a country have to give up to get him?
Let's say the Americans were loaded up with top level basketball players (which they are) but were in need of some medal contenders in weightlifting, table tennis and walking. Would they trade somebody like Chris Paul to Germany for three weightlifters, two table tennis players and a walker to be named later?
Lots of people in the last few months have said that they just aren't as excited about the Olympics as they used to be, but I think if the IOC allowed countries to trade Olympians that wouldn't be a problem anymore for two main reasons.
1. Fans would stay more interested in Olympics news year round.
If the Olympics were set up like all the other major sports, in terms of being able to trade athletes, organizers would be able to grab headlines throughout the year, not just for a couple months in every fourth summer and a couple months in every fourth winter. If that Chris Paul deal actually did go down, imagine how many people would be calling into their local sports radio station to talk about it.
2. Fans would care about all the other sports more than they ever have before.
For years sports like gymnastics, swimming and basketball have dominated the headlines in the United States and other countries around the world. If the Olympics adopted this format fans would start to care about equestrian, judo and water polo more than they ever have.
Because millions of fans would have an Olympic fantasy team. Think about it, the NFL is the most popular sport in the United States for three reasons in my mind. Fans gamble on games, all the games take place during a finite period of time during the week (Sunday and Monday mostly) and people watch all the games because they usually have a guy playing on their fantasy team in each one.
If Mike from Chicago is playing in his Olympic fantasy league against some buddies and the difference between winning and losing that week comes down to whether Jason Turner can finish third or higher in the Air Pistol final, I can promise you that Mike and his buddies will tune into the shooting competition.
Other questions in this scenario ...
Who would run each country's team?
Each country's president would appoint a general manager for his or her country. If you set it up this way the President would take some heat if their country was not performing well. Approval ratings and athletic success would go hand in hand in some countries.
Can Winter and Summer Olympians be dealt for?
Would an athlete who got traded have to start living in the country they were traded to?
No. The athletes could still train in their home countries unless it is a team sport. In that case, each athlete's situation would be evaluated separately.
While an idea like this probably goes against everything the Olympics stand for, and defeats the original intent of the Games; times have changed and the IOC has got to do something to keep the Olympics relevant.
There is no doubt that this is a radical scenario, but if Becky Hammon can play for Russia, anything is possible.
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