How Unequal Distribution of Wealth Affects Students and Athletes

Cirrae Gagnon

For many athletes and students that struggle with poverty, new opportunities come few and far between. I feel that leaders should look past money and privilege and look into talent and passion. Think of it like building a house. Those who struggle with poverty are trying to build a house with some screws and a screwdriver, and those who have privilege have a crew with power tools and drills. It’s possible for both of you to be successful, but the privileged will finish faster and more efficiently because they have the right supplies. 

Many people end up being “successful” in their careers or their lifetime strictly because they were born into money or fame. Life is much easier when your parents pay out of pocket for your 4 year university degree rather than applying for many scholarships and struggling to get by while drowning in student loan debt. Same goes for athletes; many have big dreams and a ton of potential, but are thrown on the back burner simply because they/their school/team is poor. 

A specific example of how money gives you privilege is something I see in my daily life. I am an equestrian, which is one of if not the most expensive sports to participate in. In 2019, the Alpena equestrian team qualified for state finals, but only by default due to lack of teams as big as ours. When we got there, it was an eye opening experience to see how much money plays a role into who wins. After speaking to a girl from another team, I found out that she bought her horse for $150,000. Yes, that is correct, $150,000 for a high school team. She pays professionals to ride and train her horse for her, which can cost upwards of $90 an hour for 7 days a week, which can cost $2520 a MONTH. Of course, this girl was one of the best there, and she won her division, not surprisingly. Most riders from Alpena will never own a horse that’s worth more than $5,000. The uneven distribution of wealth is hugely amplified by the horse industry.

Many students and athletes that struggle with poverty are forced to give up on their dreams of “going big” or going to their dream university even though they are just as passionate as many wealthy students. Jim Carrey is a great example of a rags to riches success story that many miss out on. Carrey had been living in a van after his dad had lost his job, but soon after he entered a comedy circuit and offers started rolling in, he turned  into the man he is today. Opportunities such as scholarships and showcases are out there, but they are almost impossible to find and difficult to grasp once you find them. 

Poverty and the uneven distribution of wealth have a huge impact on sports and “success” in life. I think we should stand together to help make opportunities the same for everybody and really even out the playing field. Let’s bring those that struggle back in the spotlight to show what true passion and hard work looks like.