Olympic Coaches Deserve Bling, Too

by Lauren Barbato

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games kick off Friday, August 5 in Rio de Janeiro amid reports of poor sanitation clogging the water, massive police strikes and the threatening Zika virus, as well as disqualification of numerous Russian athletes. But enough about all the problems plaguing the 2016 Olympics — let's talk about what really matters: winning. We all know Olympians obviously receive a medal if they finish in first, second or third place, but do coaches also receive medals at the Olympics? The answer may surprise you.

Although they coach their athletes for hours each day, Olympic coaches do not receive medals from the International Olympic Committee — not even if their athlete or team clinches the coveted gold. It seems coaches only get bragging rights, and can add to their resume that they've coached winning Olympians.

But according to Yahoo! Sports, Olympic coaches have been given medals for special achievements. In 1980, the coach of the USA men's hockey team, Herb Brooks, was gifted a gold medal from Olympic organizers. Brooks' coached the famous "Miracle on Ice" team, which beat the Soviet Union in the medal round; it was the first time in Olympic history that the USA defeated the Soviet Union in hockey. The USA men's team went on to win the gold medal, while the Soviet Union took silver.


Still, moments like those are rare. So, what do Olympic coaches get, if not medals? They must receive some big money from the IOC, right?

Well, not exactly. According to Business Insider, the IOC pays Olympic coaches zero dollars. That's right — nothing. Athletes don't receive anything either, though some countries, including the United States, provide athletes with a so-called medal bonus. In some cases, Olympic committees may give these bonuses to the coaches. For example, the Canadian Olympic Committee paid coaches a bonus if their athletes received a medal. A gold medal awarded a coach $10,000, while silver was worth $7,500, and a bronze medal came with a $5,000 bonus.

"We talk about coaches every day in our business," COC chief executive officer Chris Overholt told the Toronto Star in 2012. "In a lot of ways, they’re so much the backbone of athletes’ planning and preparation and key performances."

That trend has yet to catch on in America, even though U.S. athletes receive a pretty considerable bonus for their medal-winning performances. Maybe one day Olympic coaches will receive more appreciation than some applause outside of the spotlight.