May 19, 2009

Why Are Rich People So Bad at Sports?: Does wealth = superb athletes? It used to. But now, having access to state-of-the-art training facilities and world-class coaches, is not always an advantage.

posted by BoKnows to general at 06:18 PM - 5 comments

There's no motivation like an escape from poverty. I've been reading a lot about the success of Kenyan marathoners... while training and genetics play a part, the lack of other opportunities is just as important. One of the most successful college runners of today, Samuel Chelanga, started running in Kenya as a way to get an education:

Q: And your brother Joshua eventually led you into the sport of running. How did that happen?

SC: That happened after I didn't get a university in Kenya because it's expensive there to pay. They only have a few scholarships and I missed the scholarships that were offered. I had to stay for awhile at home to try and find some money, but it was hard. Just hanging out with my brother every day, doing nothing, just running family errands, one day my brother just decided "you know what, you should start running." For a second, I didn't think that he was serious, but then after awhile we had to sit down and talk about what I wanted in my life and what were his ideas. I wanted to go to school so much and we consulted one of his friends, Paul Tergat, and he said it's possible I could do running plus school in the U.S. through NCAA. I looked at the idea and I thought "that makes sense."

posted by dusted at 08:04 PM on May 19, 2009

Also, poor athletes tend to specialize. There's nobody worrying about a well-balanced mix of soccer, cross-country and squash. There's almost no cross training. I know Kenyans run three times per day and I'm guessing Brazilians play soccer all day and Dominicans play baseball all day. That kind of single-mindedness is typically viewed as a negative in our culture, but it's what will make an athlete great.

posted by dusted at 08:17 PM on May 19, 2009

Rich guys still win yacht races.

posted by owlhouse at 06:05 AM on May 21, 2009

Much like in rock n roll, my field, the people who make it in sports are the ones who want it the most. When you can't take anything for granted, and you don't have a high quality of life to fall back on, it stands to reason that you will do everything in your power to rise above. Same as the Kenyan in Dusted's example.

On the other hand, the upper crust still have a way of buying top talent with whom to associate. Just think about all the top athlete's who attend prep school on basketball scholarships - Lebron James, for example. When those within your social strata don't possess the skills to attract attention in sport, you find ways to associate with them. Thus, boosters.

posted by MW12 at 09:25 PM on May 21, 2009

Rich guys still win yacht races.

I'm pretty sure that most of the PGA and NHL didn't grow up too poor, either.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:42 PM on May 23, 2009

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