I don't think this is a realistic assessment of the sport. The fact that athletes in track and field are allowed to be paid for their performances, appearances, and endorsements doesn't mean that any athlete--even Olympic-caliber competitors--is guaranteed to make a living in the sport. Nor should they be. Nor should their inability to do so be perceived as some sort of indictment of the state of the sport.
Track and field is an extremely difficult sport to watch, live or on television. If you don't grow up involved in it on some level, either participating or the parent or sibling of someone involved, to watch any meet other than the Olympics is a very hard sell indeed. Listen carefully sometime to the announcers on a televised track meet and imagine trying to understand what's going on for a newcomer. Broadcasts jump from a long-distance event to a hurdle race to a field competition. In the '70s indoor track was marketed as some sort of athletic three-ring circus because that's exactly what it is. It's great that athletes can now accept the cash on offer for their performances and, for many, their appearances and endorsement of products, but nobody ever promised that all leading competitors in all events could live as sporting professionals.
this sport wrote:
Pretty bad state of affairs when someone on the bubble for the Olympics in track can't make a working wage.
Fortunately Johnny Dutch is an interesting guy with other talents. He will be fine post-track.