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Team USA CEO Sarah Hirshland talks Olympic business: Sporticast

Team USA CEO Sarah Hirshland talks Olympic business: Sporticast

In the latest episode of Sporticast, hosts Scott Sochnick and Eben Novy Williams talk with Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, about the business of the Olympics, the power of athlete stories, and what makes Team USA different from others. Approximately every four years.

As of this Wednesday, we are 100 days away from the start of the Summer Games in Paris. For Team USA, NBC, the athletes and their sponsors, this milestone officially marks the beginning of the commercial campaign for the Games themselves. Experiments began, promotions were cut, and media coverage began to increase.

Hirshland, who has managed Team USA since 2018, discusses the many ways in which the Olympic movement in the United States is different than elsewhere. For starters, while other countries fund their athletes primarily with government money, the United States does not. Team USA also selects its Olympians through a more meritocratic process, creating a unique challenge for sponsors and the athletes themselves.

They discuss the importance of telling athlete stories — which are abundant on a U.S. team of more than 600 Olympians — as well as what she learned from the coronavirus-impacted Games in 2021 (Tokyo) and 2022 (Beijing), and her response to world athletics. Deciding to pay medal bonuses to athletes, the Olympics first.

The trio also talks about how the American college sports organization helped Team USA excel during the Olympics, and what the USOPC is doing to try to preserve Olympic sports in the face of major changes across the NCAA. This includes lobbying efforts, conversations with the NCAA, and planning with other college sports stakeholders.

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They conclude by discussing the LA2028 Games, which will be the first Summer Games in the United States since Atlanta in 1996, and the strong possibility that Salt Lake City will win the 2034 Winter Games.

(You can subscribe to Sporticast channel through apple, Google, Spotify, Youtubeor wherever else you get your podcasts.)

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