•Make the Olympic training centers more sports specific. Clearly, multipurpose facilities that try to be all things to all athletes, like the one in Colorado Springs, represent an inefficient use of funds. That does not mean there should be one training center for each sport. Many sports can, and should, coexist—bobsled, luge, skiing and ski jumping; swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming and diving, to cite two examples. Each training center should be financed by the USOC based on the number of athletes who use it and the number of sports it accommodates.
•The USOC's sports medicine program and the U.S. Pan Am and World University games efforts all should become independent national governing bodies. Each, then, would appeal to the USOC central bank for funds.
•Disband the House of Delegates. This will be a tough one, because the delegates will have to vote themselves out of existence. But they should do so. The 90-member Executive Board can become a new House of Delegates.
•Finally, give the USOC the financial support it requires. The USOC, even in its more streamlined form, will need money to finance construction of additional training centers, the training of coaches and the subsidizing of both world class athletes and junior development programs.
A common misconception is that the USOC became rich with its 40% share of the profits from the Los Angeles Olympics. Not so. That money—some $110 million—was used as the bedrock for an autonomous institution, the U.S. Olympic Foundation, which is intended to act as a buffer against bankruptcy for amateur sports in the U.S. The foundation contributes money to the NGBs each year; a total of $7.9 million was given in 1987. But investment strategy dictates that the contributions not exceed half the total return on the foundation's endowment (the other half is reinvested). The principal is untouchable, and so it doesn't really exist for the athletes.
How then to bolster USOC finances? Congress should finish the job it started 10 years ago. If the federal government had an income tax checkoff for Olympic contributions and one in three taxpayers elected to donate a dollar out of their refund money, it would bring in an additional $33 million a year. The checkoff box legislation should be passed only when, by trimming its bureaucracy, the USOC demonstrates its willingness to reform. There is no sense giving the current USOC more money to squander.
That $33 million may not be enough to turn that high-flying 15-year-old boy in Kansas into the next Carl Lewis, but it will go a long way toward providing the youth of America the support it deserves.