Jim Thorpe And Me

When I was growing up, a lot was made of the distinction between professional and amateur athletes.  The difference was of particular significance whenever The Olympics would come around.  This was during the cold war era and Americans would often rail over the fact that Soviet Union and East German athletes were often state sponsored and paid.  Whereas, here in the good old US of A, Olympic participants were generally college athletes who competed for their schools.

Occasionally, there might be a discovery that an amateur athlete had received payments of some sort and his or her “amateur status” could be in jeopardy . . . meaning they wouldn’t be able to represent the country at international events. My friends and I would incorporate this gestalt into our own recreational sports;  if ever a bet was made in a game we were playing, we’d tease that winning meant the loss of our amateur status.

A Kindred Spirit

A Kindred Spirit

Looming over this amateur/professional controversy  was a somewhat tragic situation involving the famous Olympian, Jim Thorpe.  Thorpe, a native American from Oklahoma, won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics.  He would go on to play three different sports as a professional —  baseball, football and basketball.  Because of those accomplishments and his track and field prowess, he is often cited as the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, his Olympic titles were confiscated after it was found he had been paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place.  Compared to the current status of practically no distinction whatsoever between professional and amateur, those rules now seem beyond quaint.

What made me think of this is something I learned while preparing to file my 2014 tax return.  As you may have noticed, occasionally my blog has a banner like this one:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

That is my vain (in both senses) attempt at marketing an e-book version of  Volume V of the Ironicman series both through Lulu and Amazon.  I believe the sales price is $2.99.  I occasionally monitor the Lulu site to see if anyone has been crazy enough to make a purchase.  And lo and behold!, I noticed last month that  I had accumulated sales of $7.62 last year. In other words, I’m no longer an amateur writer, I’m a professional!  And, lucky me . . . I’ve no gold medals that need be surrendered.

So I’ve included that revenue in the income that I’ve reported to the IRS on this year’s tax return.  With a certain amount of pride.  Weirdly (and sadly), I’m kind of hoping this is the year that I get audited.

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2 Responses to “Jim Thorpe And Me”

  1. Rich Says:

    1) I hope you took thousands of dollars of deductions against that income.
    2) The unfairness of the Jim Thorpe Olympic medal issue always disturbed me, even right now.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    No, I was so excited by the income I never even thought of the deductions.
    Didn’t mean to upset you about the medals they took away. The good news is….they reinstated his gold medals much later on. Probably after he was dead. A lot of good it did him then.

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