Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Becky Hammon and the Opportunity Cost of Playing in the Olympics

Becky Hammon who was raised in South Dakota (where I lived for 11 years) and a graduate of Colorado State University (where I also graduated) has decided to play for Russia in the 2008 Olympics. Hammon was not originally on the list of women’s basketball players invited to try out for the USA Olympic women’s basketball team, but her name did show up after she signed with the Russian professional team.

Since Hammon has not participated in international play, she is eligible to play for any country according to FIBA rules. Once you play for a country, you cannot switch to another for the Olympics.

Hammon received dual citizenship in February and has signed a four year, $2+ million contract with CSKA - a Russian professional basketball team - which is six times the amount she earns (about $95,000) in the WNBA. Additionally, Hammon can earn $150,000 if Russia wins silver or $250,000 if Russia wins gold this Olympics in women’s basketball.

Given her desire to play in the Olympics, and the low probability of making the USA 2008 women’s basketball Olympic team – she decided to take her next best alternative – to play for Team Russia in this year’s Olympics.

Yet some have questioned her patriotism – including Team USA coach Anne Donavan. Hammon countered that she would have played for Russia without any financial incentives and says she would have given up "any amount of money" for the opportunity to represent the United States in the Summer Games. This is a classic example of an opportunity cost.

What do you think – is Becky Hammon unpatriotic or a shrewd business person?


Shake'n'bake said...


but seriously, It's not really any different from foreign athletes that immigrate to the US become citizens and go on to compete for the US. Russia offered her a better opportunity so she moved there and became a citizen.

Metfan22 said...

I repectfully have to disagree with shke'n'bake. Most of the atheletes who compete for the US have been here a number of years and usually are seeking some sort of political asylum. Last time I checked Becky didn't run off to Russia to seek asylum there. I might not disagree with her stance so much if she went to the US tryouts first. I'm not sure how she can say she is a true re white and blue American, and then turn down Team USA and then bad mouth the committee in public. The way she has acted should convince most people that she shouldn't be on the team at all. To have a good team in a team sport everyone has to sacrifice for the good of the team. Not only would Becky not put the team ahead of her own interests, she put her own interests ahead of her country's. I think when all this is over, when the US team has the gold medal and Russia is lucky to get a bronze, people will finally give Anne Donovan some credit. Besides the US team is playing a up tempo game for 40 minutes and Becky is slow and small so she really wouldn't fit in.