United States Olympic Committee
United States Olympic Committee logo
|Headquarters||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
|President||Lawrence F. Probst III|
|Secretary General||Scott Blackmun|
|National Paralympic Committee|
|Headquarters||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is the National Olympic Committee for the United States. In addition, the USOC is one of only four NOCs in the world that also serve as the National Paralympic Committee for their country. The USOC is responsible for supporting, entering and overseeing U.S. teams for the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Youth Olympic Games, Pan American Games and Parapan American Games and serves as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements in the United States.
The Olympic Movement is overseen by the International Olympic Committee. The IOC is supported by 35 International Federations that govern each sport on a global level, National Olympic Committees that oversee Olympic sport as a whole in each nation, and National Federations that administer each sport at the national level (called National Governing Bodies in the United States).
Similarly, the National Paralympic Committee is the sole governing body responsible for the selection and training of all athletes participating in the Paralympic Games.
The USOC is one of 204 NOCs and 174 NPCs within the international Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Forty-seven NGBs are members of the USOC. Fifteen of the NGBs also manage sports on the Paralympic program, while the USOC governs four Paralympic sports (cycling, skiing, swimming and track & field), and five additional Paralympic sports are governed by U.S. members of International Paralympic Federations (wheelchair basketball, boccia, goalball, powerlifting and wheelchair rugby).
Unlike most other nations, the United States does not have a sports ministry. The USOC was reorganized by the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, originally enacted in 1978. It is a federally chartered nonprofit corporation and does not receive federal financial support (other than for select Paralympic military programs). Pursuant to the Act, the USOC has the exclusive right to use and authorize the use of Olympic-related marks, images and terminology in the United States. The USOC licenses that right to sponsors as a means of generating revenue in support of its mission.
The USOC Mission Statement is "To support the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement, thereby inspiring all Americans".
The USOC has two primary responsibilities in its oversight of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States. The first is to generate resources in support of its mission statement, which is to help American athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence. The second is to ensure its resources are used wisely and effectively to that end.
Upon the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894, the two American IOC members – James Edward Sullivan and William Milligan Sloane – formed a committee to organize the participation of American athletes in the 1896 Summer Olympics, in Athens, Greece. In 1921, the committee adopted a constitution and bylaws to formally organize the American Olympic Association.
From 1928 to 1953, its president was Avery Brundage, who later went on to become the president of the IOC, the only American to do so.
In 1940, the AOA changed its name to the United States of America Sports Federation and, in 1945, changed it again to the United States Olympic Association. In 1950, federal mandate allowed the USOA to solicit tax-deductible contributions as a private, non-profit corporation. After several constitutional revisions were made to the federal charter in 1961, the name was changed to the United States Olympic Committee.
The Amateur Sports Act of 1978 established the USOC as the coordinating body for all Olympic-related athletic activity in the United States, specifically relating to international competition. The USOC was also given the responsibility of promoting and supporting physical fitness and public participation in athletic activities by encouraging developmental programs in its member organizations. The provisions protect individual athletes, and provide the USOC’s counsel and authority to oversee Olympic and Paralympic business in the United States.
The public law not only protects the trademarks of the IOC and USOC, but also gives the USOC exclusive rights to the words "Olympic," "Olympiad" and "Citius, Altius, Fortius," as well as commercial use of Olympic and Paralympic marks and terminology in the United States, excluding American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which fall under the authority of separate NOCs and NPCs.
One of the many revolutionary elements contained within the legislation was the Paralympic Amendment – an initiative that fully integrated the Paralympic Movement into the USOC by Congressional mandate in 1998.
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the USOC, was founded in 2001. In addition to selecting and managing the teams which compete for the United States in the Paralympic Games, U.S. Paralympics is also responsible for supporting Paralympic community and military sports programs around the country. In 2006, the USOC created the Paralympic Military Program with the goal of providing Paralympic sports as a part of the rehabilitation process for injured soldiers. Through the U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Program, USOC hosted the Warrior Games for wounded service personnel from 2010 to 2014, until the organization of the event was taken on by the Department of Defense in 2015.
The USOC moved its headquarters from New York City to Colorado Springs on July 1, 1978. Thanks to the generous support of the City of Colorado Springs and its residents, the USOC headquarters moved to its present location in downtown Colorado Springs in April 2010, while the previous site (located just two miles away) remains a U.S. Olympic Training Center.
After convening in 2010 the Working Group for Safe Training Environments, USOC formed the Safe Sport program to address child sexual abuse, bullying, hazing and harassment and emotional, physical and sexual misconduct within its domain. Several national law firms were enlisted "to aid ... National Governing Bodies ..., free of charge, in responding to claims of misconduct in sport".
In February 2011 the USOC launched an anti-steroid campaign in conjunction with the Ad Council called "Play Asterisk Free" aimed at teens. The campaign first launched in 2008 under the name "Don't Be An Asterisk".
The USOC is governed by a 16-member board of directors and a professional staff headed by a CEO. The USOC also has three constituent councils to serve as sources of opinion and advice to the board and USOC staff, including the Athletes’ Advisory Council, National Governing Bodies Council and Multi-Sport Organizations Council. The AAC and NGBC have three representatives on the board, while six members of the board are independent. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun and all American members of the IOC (Anita DeFrantz, James Easton and Angela Ruggiero) are ex officio members of the board.
The USOC named Blackmun CEO on Jan. 6, 2010. Blackmun held a previous stint at the USOC, serving as acting chief executive officer (2001), senior managing director of sport (2000) and general counsel (1999). He also serves on the IOC’s Marketing Commission and on the board of the National Foundation for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
On Oct. 2, 2008, Lawrence F. Probst III was elected chairman of the USOC board of directors. Probst also serves on the IOC’s International Relations Commission, a post he assumed by IOC appointment on March 10, 2011. 
National Governing Body Members
National Governing Bodies are organizations that look after all aspects of their individual sports. The NGBs are responsible for training, competition and development for their sports, as well as nominating athletes to the U.S. Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Teams. There are currently 31 Olympic summer sport NGBs in the United States, as well as eight Olympic winter sport NGBs. 
The United States Olympic Committee is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation supported by American individuals and corporate sponsors. Unlike most other nations, the USOC does not receive direct government funding for Olympic programs (except for select Paralympic military programs).
The USOC’s main sources of revenue are television broadcast rights, sponsorships and philanthropy in the form of major gifts and direct mail income. Additional funding comes from the government for Paralympic programming, as well as other sources such as the city of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Olympic Foundation.
The USOC asks for contributions from time to time using public service announcements and other direct solicitations. Also, some proceeds from sales in its online store benefit the committee.
The USOC currently does not hold telethons or other fundraising events, but has in the past.
There has been some financial conflict between the USOC and International Olympic Committee (IOC), with some pointing out the frequent leadership changes of USOC, and USOC trying to broadcast the Olympics using its own television network, which the IOC discouraged. USOC president Peter Ueberroth allegedly stonewalled a negotiation between IOC and USOC to discuss the revenue sharing of the US broadcasts with IOC. The failure of the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic bids was partly blamed by some on USOC. For instance, NBC television executive Dick Ebersol said after the failed 2016 bid, "This was the IOC membership saying to the USOC there will be no more domestic Olympics until you join the Olympic movement".
USOC has also been criticized for not providing equal funding to Paralympic athletes, compared to Olympic athletes. In 2003, a lawsuit was filed by American Paralympic athletes Tony Iniguez, Scot Hollonbeck and Jacob Heilveil. They alleged that the USOC was underfunding American Paralympic athletes. Iniguez cited the fact that the USOC made health care benefits available to a smaller percentage of Paralympians, provided smaller quarterly training stipends and paid smaller financial awards for medals won at the Paralympics. American Paralympians saw this as a disadvantage for Paralympic athletes, as nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom support Paralympians and Olympians virtually equally. The USOC did not deny the discrepancy in funding, but contended that this was due to the fact that it did not receive any government financial support. As a result, it had to rely on revenue generated by the media exposure of its athletes. Olympic athletic success resulted in greater exposure for the USOC than Paralympic athletic achievements. The case was heard by lower courts, who ruled that the USOC has the right to allocate its finances to athletes at different rates. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, who on September 6, 2008 announced that it would not hear the appeal. However, during the time the lawsuit had lasted (from 2003 to 2008), the funding of Paralympic athletes more than tripled. In 2008, $11.4 million was earmarked for Paralympic athletes, up from $3 million in 2004.
In the run-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was discovered that the American uniforms for the Games' opening and closing ceremonies, designed by Ralph Lauren, were manufactured in China. This sparked criticism of the USOC from media pundits, the public and members of Congress.
The USOC operates Olympic Training Centers at which aspiring Olympians prepare for international competition:
- The main facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado offers both summer and winter sports training in a variety of sports. It houses the USOC headquarters and many permanent athletic venues.
- The ARCO Training Center in Chula Vista, California offers training in various summer sports. The largest facility there is a lake for canoeing and rowing.
- The U.S. Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York is a facility for winter sports athletes. Permanent facilities include an ice hockey/figure skating arena, a bobsled run, and a luge run.
Although catered toward elite athlete training, these complexes are also open to the public and offer a variety of services, including tours and regular camps and competitions for various domestic and international sport programs.
Additionally, the USOC partners with 16 elite training sites across the country, to provide U.S. athletes with Olympic-caliber facilities that positively impact performance. Facilities with U.S. Olympic training site designation have invested millions of dollars in operating, staffing, equipment and training costs. These sites are often selected to host U.S. Olympic Team Trials and support Team USA athletes prepare for the Olympic Games. A full list can be found at USOC Training centers and sites
The USOC administers a number of awards and honors for individuals and teams who have significant achievements in Olympic and Paralympic sports, or who have made contributions to the Olympic and Paralympic movement in the U.S.
- USOC Athlete of the Year - Awards are given annually to the top overall male athlete, female athlete, Paralympic athlete, and team, from among the USOC's member organizations.
- USOC Coach of the Year - Awards are given annually to the top national, developmental, Paralympic, and volunteer coaches, and for achievement in sports science.
- U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame - The Hall of Fame honors Olympic and Paralympic athletes, teams, coaches, and others who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the U.S. Olympic movement.
- U.S. Olympic Spirit Award - This award is given biennially to athletes demonstrating spirit, courage, and achievement at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- Jack Kelly Fair Play Award – Presented annually to an athlete, coach or official in recognition of an outstanding act of fair play and sportsmanship displayed during the past year.
- Rings of Gold Award – Awards are presented annually in honor of an individual and a program dedicated to helping children develop their Olympic or Paralympic dreams and reach their highest athletic and personal potential.
- Olympic Torch Award – Presented annually to an individual who has positively impacted the Olympic Movement and has contributed to promoting the Olympic Ideals throughout the U.S.
The USOC generates support from two principal types of Olympic sponsorship: worldwide and domestic. Each level of sponsorship grants companies different marketing rights and offers exclusive use of designated Olympic and Team USA images and marks. Under the domestic sponsorship program, the USOC also has special partnerships with various licensees, suppliers and outfitters that provide vital services and products to support Team USA. Across all levels of sponsorship, the USOC is committed to preserving the values of the Olympic properties and protecting the exclusive rights of Olympic sponsors.
Created by the International Olympic Committee in 1985, the Olympic Partners TOP program is the highest level of Olympic sponsorship, granting exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the Olympic Games and Winter Olympic Games. Managed by the IOC, the TOP program supports the OCOGs, NOCs and the IOC.
Operating on a four-year term in line with each Olympic quadrennium, the TOP program features approximately 10 worldwide Olympic Partners, with each receiving exclusive global marketing rights within a designated product or service category.
The Olympic Games domestic sponsorship program grants marketing rights within the host country or territory only. Under the direction of the IOC, the USOC manages the domestic program within the United States. Like the worldwide TOP program, the domestic sponsorship program operates on the principle of product-category exclusivity. Approximately 20 corporations currently participate in the U.S. domestic sponsorship program, which enables the USOC to deliver increased funding and equitable distribution to National Governing Bodies. The establishment of these long-term domestic partnerships helps generate independent financial stability for American athletes while ensuring the viability of the Team USA on the international stage.
The USOC has granted licensing rights to nearly three dozen companies to manufacture and distribute official licensed products, which convey the rich history of American culture and commemorates the Olympic Movement. These companies are referred to as licensees and pay a royalty for each item sold bearing any related Olympic, USOC or Team USA marks.
NBC Universal has held the American broadcasting rights of the Olympic Games since 1988, and the broadcasting rights to the Olympic Winter Games since 2002. In 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the IOC to broadcast the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 Games. On May 7, 2014, NBC agreed to a $7.75 billion contract with the IOC to broadcast the 2022, 2024, 2026, 2028, 2030, and 2032 Games. The IOC distributes Olympic broadcast revenue through Olympic Solidarity – the body responsible for managing and administering the share of the television rights of the Olympic Games. Under the current format, the revenue is allocated to the NOCs – including the USOC – the local organizing committee and International Federations. .
In 2009, the USOC and Comcast announced plans for The U.S. Olympic Network, which would have aired Olympic-sports events, news, and classic footage. However, the USOC met opposition from the International Olympic Committee, which preferred to deal with NBCU (and its then-new Universal Sports joint venture). Since then, Comcast has purchased a majority share of NBCU. Meanwhile, there has been no news about this network since mid-2009 and the status of this concept is uncertain; however, it may be merged somehow with Universal Sports now that they are co-owned.
Relationship between IOC and USOC
In May 2012, USOC’s leaders negotiated a resolution with the IOC, addressing a decades-long revenue sharing debate and paving the way for a peaceful future between the two bodies. The new agreement elevates the USOC’s global perception and restructures how worldwide Olympic sponsorship and U.S. TV revenues are shared, while providing for USOC contributions to Olympic Games costs.
The agreement, revising 27-year-old terms governing the USOC’s shares of worldwide Olympic sponsorship and U.S. broadcast rights revenue, preserves the USOC’s future revenue at current levels and includes an escalator for inflation. Under the terms of the new agreement, the USOC is guaranteed seven percent of the U.S. broadcast revenue and 10 percent of the IOC’s global sponsorship revenue. The agreement guarantees the USOC approximately $410 million per quadrennium, plus inflation and a percentage of revenue from new growth areas, beginning in 2020.
- United States at the Olympics
- United States at the Paralympics
- United States at the Pan American Games
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