Athletes HECS Plan Flawed

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004 @ 5:10PM

Blueprint plans to have elite athletes repay money received via scholarship programs under a HECS type repayment scheme are potentially significantly flawed, due mainly to the misguided belief that the majority of elite athletes earn more than the average person during their sporting careers.

While there are some high profile sports people who do earn millions, the fact is that for the vast majority of elite athletes, their quest to bring sporting glory for their country actually leaves them out-of-pocket.

When referring to incomes for those whose earnings come from sport, two important factors must be taken into account.

Firstly, sports careers have a limited life span and the earning capacity of most athletes is limited to a relatively short period of success at the top. These earnings must be considered in both the context of compensating for out of pocket expenses incurred during ten years or more required to reach the top of the sporting field, and also of providing a base on which to build a future.

Secondly, unlike those who complete a university education, the skills and abilities learned during a sporting career rarely offer options for ongoing earnings in later life. As a result many athletes must both study and train to set themselves up for a future, and often incur both a HECS debt and out of pocket expenses due to costs associated with climbing to the ranks of elite sport.

While the concept of sports stars who earn mega-bucks repaying something to the system that nurtured that career has some merit, it is important to ensure that in a grab for the tax dollar, we are not lulled into a misguided belief that highly paid long-term sports careers are the rule, not the exception.

Contact: Kate Roffey – (02) 6277 3334 or 0411 969 364

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