Sochi Russia is the focus of excitement as the winter games have officially kicked off. Competitors are prepared for the challenges ahead but many of them also face financial challenges back home. The demands of training make it difficult for athletes to build valuable work experience or hold down a full time job. Luckily, hourly-paying jobs allow flexibility for intense training schedules and are a popular way to fund the dreams of champions.
Surprisingly, not all the participants of the games are professional athletes. During the 2012 summer games, half of the American track and field athletes reported making less than $15,000 a year from their sport. When you factor in expenses for equipment, training and travel, the costs can really add up.
Hourly jobs make up the difference for this year's athletes, like Japan's Tomoko Sakagami. The hockey player delivered pizzas to finance her dreams. Slinging pies allowed her more time for slinging pucks. Plus, she was able to pay the required fees each time her team competed abroad.
American curler, John Shuster, worked as a bartender to earn his keep. His job allowed him to earn a bronze medal back in 2006, and now he's back for this year's games. Fans could visit Pickwick restaurant in Duluth, Minn to watch Shuster slide drinks across tables the way he slides curling stones across ice.
Employers benefit from the arrangement too. Many of the behaviors needed in sports translate easily to the hourly workplace. What athletes lack in formal work experience they make up for with team spirit and determination. Any athlete can emphasize responsibility and performance under pressure in order to win an employers attention. It doesn’t hurt to show up to an interview with a gold medal either.
This year's winter games will challenge athletes with the toughest competition from around the globe. They'll fight for the gold in Sochi but thanks to their hourly jobs, they won't have to fight for a paycheck.