Cruise Ships to the Rescue: Housing at the 2016 Summer Olympics

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are having some issues. It came out today that the US Men’s and Women’s Olympic Basketball teams will be staying aboard the Silver Cloud cruise ship instead of the Olympic Village to combat some of those issues. Since the 1992 Barcelona Dream Team, our basketball Olympians have resided outside the Olympic Village on a couple of occasions. Olympians stayed in cruise ships during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. This isn’t new, but it does raise some concerns.

1. Will this keep the athletes healthy/safe?

We stress the health and safety of the athletes as a top priority. Isn’t this an attempt at doing so?

2. Will this present an advantage in competition for Team USA?

Again, a healthier body can perform at a higher level. Would you rather sleep in the Olympic Village or on a luxury cruise ship? Check out Andrew Bogut’s thoughts on the variance in competitor residency. These Olympians own some of the most unique somatotypes (body types) on the planet- tallest athletes on average for example. These athletes do require unique living quarters. With post game recovery and rest being a high focus in basketball right now, the residency of the athletes could impact performance in this year’s games.

3. The “Million Dollar Olympian” vs. The Amateur Olympian Discussion

I’m trying to keep this post under 25o words, so I’ll keep this section brief. The historical ramifications of the 1992 Dream Team and amateur/professional athletes in the Olympics can be a lengthy discussion. There is an argument to be made that Team USA basketball  does include professional athletes that are worth millions of dollars and their bodies and livelihood is their value. Measures need to be taken not to jeopardize that value. That is absolutely understandable. However, there’s also a casino, library, bar, fitness center, and pool on the cruise ship. These are all amenities that their competition won’t benefit from. Furthermore, these are accommodations that other USA Olympians will not have.

There’s a ton to digest here. Primarily, does the living arrangements of athletes create an uneven playing field? Secondly, will Carnival Cruises be a future sponsor for our athletes? Will Team USA arrive in a fleet of red, white, and blue cruise ships in 2020? Joking aside, we may see some future changes made to the bid proposal that places stronger requirements on living arrangements for athletes.

About Dr. Zachary Binkley

Zachary W. Binkley, PhD is the former Assistant Professor and Program Director of Exercise and Movement Science Program. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Special Interest Group on Basketball.

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