08/20/12 — For love of sport: Olympian Missy Franklin inspires by not rushing to cash in

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For love of sport: Olympian Missy Franklin inspires by not rushing to cash in

The Olympics are over and the scramble has begun for the endorsement dollars and other perks that go along with becoming a world-class amateur athlete.

And in the middle of all the hype, scandal and egos stands Missy Franklin.

Already identified as the next big thing in U.S. swimming, the 17-year-old has already been offered millions of dollars and tempting deals pushing her toward a career and easy money.

But she is resisting the temptation, as are her parents, to become the next poster child for amateurs who have lost their innocence and is not ready to commit to a life of fame and fortune, at least not this way.

And that is refreshing.

Who knows what decision she will make later, but for now, she is content to be a high school student and to think about her future broadly, as any 17-year-old should.

So perhaps we won't have to endure the sordid stories and the less-than-classy ad campaigns from her that we are now suffering through with multi-gold winner Michael Phelps, who was a lot more appealing before he realized just how marketable he was, or the seemingly desperate competition for attention from his buddy Ryan Lochte who seems intent on making money in whatever form he can shamelessly pander for it.

The Olympics is supposed to be about sport and amateurs who are competing for the love of the game. And you can always tell those who keep that spirit, even after big wins and media hype. They are the ones that you root for, the ones who tear up when the national anthem is played.

We have seen what happens when big bucks play into sports; just look at the mess college football is in. Let's hope that there are a few more Missy Franklins out there than there are athletes looking for their next payday or a spot on the red carpet in Hollywood. Allow them the chance to fund their training and to help their parents make the bills that go along with supporting an Olympic athlete, but encourage them to keep their innocence as long as possible.

It will make watching the next Olympics much more inspiring.

Published in Editorials on August 20, 2012 10:46 AM