I have always had a lot of respect for Dwyane Wade. The Heat shooting guard flew under the radar for years after being selected behind the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh in the star-studded 2003 NBA draft. He won a championship with the team that drafted him. His loyalty is something that must be admired and to this day I still feel the Miami Heat are Wade’s team — no matter how many first-quarter shots LeBron makes.

But sometimes athletes make bad decisions; after all, $107.5 million can buy you cars and houses, but it can’t buy you common sense. Last week, when asked about the upcoming summer Olympics in London, Wade made the controversial statement that Olympic athletes should be compensated for their service to their country.

The argument is not a new one. After all, swimmers, rowers, gymnasts and other non-professional athletes train for years with limited funding to do their country proud. They are not compensated, and it isn’t uncommon to hear stories of Olympians sleeping on uncles’ couches while away from home to train with the rest of their team. The problem, however, is that Wade will never be one of these people. Because he earns millions of dollars each year to play basketball, Wade’s comments came off as spoiled, selfish and ignorant, and despite later damage control, his reputation took a serious hit. His argument that many Team USA Wade jerseys are sold as a result of his participation is a valid one. But the first rule of being a multimillionaire goes something like this: Never complain about not having enough money. It was the right message, but it came from the wrong messenger.

To be fair, though, at least Wade plays for his country. Steve Nash has been somewhat of pariah in Canada since 2007, when he decided to stop playing for the national team. Canada’s basketball team has struggled in the last few years and hasn’t qualified for the Olympics since Nash left.

Wade’s words came off badly largely because struggling amateur athletes everywhere keep their mouth shut, despite financial difficulties, because they know what really matters is competing for their country. But that doesn’t make his argument invalid. The Olympics were originally intended as a contest of amateur athletes. There was no LeBron James, no Sidney Crosby and no Lionel Messi. Competitors didn’t have to worry about tiring themselves out, because they didn’t have to return to a professional organization and play meaningful games for eight months out of the year. But times have changed. If the Olympics, especially when it comes to team sports, are going to include the best athletes in the world — which, honestly, is what we all want — then maybe those competitors should be compensated. Dwyane Wade may not need the money, but others surely do. As Wade noted, there is a similar problem in college sports. With valuable scholarships, TV contracts and shoe deals at stake, college sports have become more a business than a manifestation of school pride and a test of college supremacy.

The problem with both the Olympics and college sports is that organizers are striving for the best of both worlds. They want to maintain the purity of the original games while still making as large a profit as possible. I can’t say there’s an easy solution. If there were, even the controversial NCAA and International Olympic Committee would have found it long ago. The only thing I can suggest is that both organizations must make a choice. Either recognize their spectacles for what they are — industries — and compensate their athletes, or strip away all of the advertising and memorabilia and revert back to the days when the only reward was pride. Then maybe Wade and others can sit in their mansions without complaint.

Arik Parnass is a freshman in the College. Candid Canadian appears every Friday.

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