Top athletes: The Olympic champion and the minimum wage

Richard Schmidt hastened these days to get away from training quickly. The rower from the Germany eighth jumps then quickly out of the boat into the car and goes home: starting in front of the TV, watch handball. Not that he did not like his own sport anymore. "But handball is cool," says the 31-year-old.

He played this himself as a child, right-winger, before he finally got into the boat because he loved it more. In handball he would probably earn more today. Even sponsors would find it easier to find a TV presence such as the World Cup. No, rich Richard Schmidt as a rower is no longer – as he is like most top athletes in Germany, even if they are like him Olympic champion and world champion.

The German Sport University Cologne (DSHS) has published a study commissioned by Deutsche Sporthilfe. She has taken a close look at the income situation of sports-assisted athletes in Germany. Germany's top athletes thus master on average a 56-hour week. They are paid on average with 7.41 euros per hour – the statutory minimum wage currently stands at 9,19 euros. The best athletes in this country earn about 1,560 euros a month, gross.

The eighth is the brand, not him

"The study is totally frightening, but it also reflects our feelings very well," says Richard Schmidt. The life satisfaction of athletes is then also slightly below the German average.

Richard Schmidt is 31 years old. According to the study, he comes as a rower to about twelve training sessions per week, which is 35.8 hours of sports. In winter it is sometimes more, he says. Rowing is time consuming. You have to scrub kilometer after kilometer, says Schmidt, as they count the tiles in swimming.

According to the study, rowers are on average 24.2 hours in work, training or studies. With him come here more hours together, Schmidt is a sports soldier, studied industrial engineer, doctorate in
Energy Technology. 30 to 35 hours, he believes. So a total of 60- to 70-hour week.

"We as Eights are still lucky, but for the women, juniors and other men in the rowing it is as difficult as in all other sports." Richard Schmidt has rowed since elementary school. The German flagship, the eighth, belongs to the Trier for ten years. He won Olympic gold and silver with him and wants to go to Tokyo. But the face of the 1.91-meter-tall Blondschopfs can still hardly assign anyone to success.

"People are not known, but the eighth is a brand." The Germany-eight and his athletes benefit from a long tradition. The eighth, that's the myth. The eighth, that stands for success. Already from the name. The athletes also have a main sponsor, who pays new boats and training camps, sometimes organizes internships.

Football eats them all

But that's just a collective thing, says Schmidt. To come to regional sponsors as a single athlete, without being known as a person, is rather difficult. He does not want to imagine what it's like for the other boats. Or the other sports. The no myth – and no media presence.

Because that, says Richard Schmidt, is a big problem in negotiations. "People are sitting in front of us and then the TV minutes are calculated in. And then it says, to put a million in the football worth the advertising value more than 10,000 in the rowing." Football just eats them all.

In the Germany eights, they try to gain a plus with an Instagram and Facebook appearance. But that is only mitigation, says Schmidt. Because: "At the Olympics you are not allowed to market," he says. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) only allows its own sponsors. The athletes are the focus of the games, says Schmidt. And they are often the only TV show the sports have. Three weeks, every four years.

Richard Schmidt is also athlete spokesman for the Rowing Association. He is in exchange with others. Why, for example, on winter television the whole weekend is filled with snow sports and in the summer hardly anything happens, does not open to the athletes. The cuddly couch in the cold with the TV in front of him or her. The reference to a different behavior of spectators between summer and winter does not help either.

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