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Sacrifice.

It’s something we’ve all had to do, but at what cost? 

Some of us have sacrificed time. Some of us have sacrificed money. Some of us have sacrificed love.

But while some of us have made superficial sacrifices of worldly items and things we covet so dearly, many have given the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

It was reported over the weekend that Gabby Douglas’ mom, Natalie Hawkins, was forced to file for bankruptcy earlier this year to cover Gabby’s Olympic training expenses. 

Natalie Hawkins isn’t the only and certainly won’t be the last mother to sacrifice it all for her child to succeed, but why do the families of American Olympic champions have to spend their last dimes in the name of sport?

I know a mother’s love knows no bounds, no limits, and no confinements, but why does the ultimate sacrifice for the mother of an Olympic champion have to come in the form of bankruptcy? 

Or in Ryan Lochte’s mother’s case, the form of a housing foreclosure? 

But then again, people will ask, isn’t that what the American dream is all about? 

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and sacrificing it all in hopes of achieving the ideal worry-free life filled with prosperity, success, and opportunity at your disposal. 

But what if Gabby Douglas returned to the United States medal-less and defeated? 

Think about the thousands of Olympians in the past who worked day and night perfecting their craft for that one chance to shine at the Olympics and have failed.  

Was it all in vain? 

Most Americans don’t realize, but as our favorite athletes stand up on that iconic Olympic podium wearing the American flag on their back, Uncle Sam is kicking down their back door. 

Unlike other countries across the world, America doesn’t subsidize or assist athletes in training for the Olympics. Housing, food, training, and living expenses come at a cost, unless you are lucky enough to receive corporate sponsorship from big name companies like Visa and Nike. 

Thankfully, Gabby achieved not one, but two gold medals, and is looking at sponsorships worth an upwards of millions in the double digits. 

America has a big problem with fully supporting those who fight for our country, and those unfortunate enough to not be the “best” or the “strongest” are repaid with debt or death.

The government currently does it with the veterans who have sacrificed their lives to fight for our freedom with the lack of services, resources and support they receive when they return to the homeland. 

Once you look past the pomp and pageantry of the Olympics, the athletes too don’t receive the support and resources they deserve from the American government. 

Going to war and going to the Olympics is in no way the same, but conceptually the sacrifices these people make in the name of “America” are equivalent. 

So the next time you stand in front of your television cheering on your favorite American Olympic athlete, always remember that freedom isn’t free and neither is training for the Olympics. 

~Brittany Lewis 

Brittany Lewis is the Music Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Brittany considers herself seasoned on all the pop culture ish that matters. Follow her on Twitter @Buttercup_B.   

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