NEW YORK (MainStreet) Aside from teaching us about world unity, sportsmanship and the spirit of competition, the Sochi Games are chock-full of important money lessons. From the less-than-stellar snow conditions to the unexpected popularity of a little-known athlete with snazzy dance moves, there's much we can learn about making smart and not-so-smart financial decisions from the 2014 Winter Olympics. Read on for our breakdown of five lessons that can help you score a gold medal in financial soundness.
Check the Weather!
We're not quite sure what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was thinking when choosing Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Games. We don't mean to hate on the southern Russian city located on the Black Sea, but Sochi's balmy climate (temperatures in February average between the upper 30s and low 50s) doesn't exactly make it an ideal location for the world's most important winter sports event. In fact, the city is a popular summer hotspot known as the "Russian Riviera." In fairness, the games are taking place up in the mountains away from the shore, but even that region is experiencing warm temperatures that are creating difficult conditions for athletes.
Indeed, the warm weather at Sochi has made the snow soft, slippery and slushy. The weather is thought to have contributed to several serious accidents, including that of Russian skicross racer Maria Komissarova, who fractured her spine during a training run, and American snowboarder Jackie Hernandez, who was knocked unconscious and sustained a concussion after crashing in her opening run of snowboard cross qualifying.
Aside from injuries, the warm weather seems to also have squashed many athletes' dreams of earning a medal or even simply completing their races. According to the Washington Post: "When 18 out of 48 skiers couldn't even finish the course in the women's super-G, the most in the event's history, something is off."
What's the takeaway from these mishaps at Sochi? If you're scoping out a venue for an important event, always take weather and climate into consideration. It's probably not worth booking a venue or locale if the weather doesn't suit the needs of your event. And if the weather can cause danger to guests or participants, it's especially wise to look elsewhere.
It's O.K. to Call Out Sick (Even If You're Bob Costas)
He may have thought wearing Peabody and Sherman glasses would hide his full-blown pinkeye infection, but Bob Costas really should have called out sick when he went on the air to host the first few days of NBC's prime-time coverage of the games. While we give the much-loved sportscaster credit for trying to work while enduring his eye infection, the ick factor was a bit too much to handle for viewers and we imagine it must have been mighty painful and uncomfortable for Costas, who was experiencing reddened, teary eyes, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Thankfully, Costas took a week off to recover before returning to coverage on Monday, February 17. While he was away, "Today Show" anchor Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, a former anchor for the "Today Show" and former host of "The View," filled in for him.
The lesson learnedit's O.K. to call out sick when you're ill, especially if you have a nasty eye infection that's unsightly and contagious. Someone will fill in for you, and the sooner you get better, the sooner you'll be able to return to work. Amen to that.
Plan Ahead, People!
Planning ahead for any business venture is crucial, especially when you're getting ready to host a major international sporting event costing billions of dollars. Unfortunately, it looks like Russia failed to get their hotel accommodations up to par as the start of the games neared. Western journalists who arrived to Sochi early took to social media to complain about unfinished or underprepared hotel rooms, posting some gross and even unsightly photos as proof. Journalists complained of undrinkable, discolored water, notes in bathrooms asking guests to throw their toilet paper in waste baskets, doorknobs falling off, and a lack of hot water in the showers, to name a few. The conditions prompted the creation of the Twitter account @SochiProblems and the hashtag #SochiProblems, which allows disgruntled visitors and fans to vent their frustrations with the games.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, IOC official Jean-Claude Killy admitted that the committee realized the hotel problems too late and had to declare a "red alert" back in September to expedite construction. The "red alert" required expanding a workforce to a total of 100,000 people working 24/7, which Killy said cost organizers what was likely millions of dollars in additional pay.
The lesson learned? Always plan major projects in advance and don't ignore the details.
"It is amazing how one 'small' detail can be so destructive to the overall result," says certified financial planner Jonathan R. Meaney, wealth manager for Carter Financial Management in Dallas. "In our personal financial affairs, it is typically the things we don't see coming that hurt us the most. That is why a complete financial planning process is so important to successful outcomes in our financial lives."
Daring Antics Can (Sometimes) Help Your Career
Even if you're not the best at your career, you can still get noticed and sometimes get ahead if you do something a bit daring. Just look at American luger Kate Hansen, who became an Internet sensation when a funny video of her showing off some killer dance moves while warming up to Beyoncé went viral. Hansen didn't medal at the Olympics, finishing in 10th place in women's singles luge, but her humorous antics sure got her a lot of press and worldwide attention.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Tucker West who finished 22nd in men's luge became instantly famous when his dad told the "Today Show" that Tucker was "very single" but "a little shy," and made a plea to young women to become fans of Tucker's Facebook page. Although Tucker said he was "mortified" by his dad's comments, the story made headlines, and Tucker told the "Today Show" a few days later that thousands of young women had reached out to him and he had even received a few marriage proposals. We think Tucker's dad is brilliant. While Tucker's 22nd-place finish is hardly noteworthy, his dad's advertisement of his romantic status to the world was a surefire way to make headlines and get people talking about him. Well done, Mr. West.
You Don't Always Get What You Pay For
Russia reportedly spent $50 billion on the Sochi Games a hefty sum that's more than the cost of all previous winter games combined but that doesn't mean the event has been free of glitches. Aside from being plagued by warm weather and thick fog, who could forget the major tech issue that occurred during the opening ceremony? Russia's plan was to have five large, glowing snowflakes open up into the famous Olympic rings, but the fifth snowflake failed to open.
According to Fox News: "The five rings were supposed to join together and erupt in pyrotechnics to get the party started. Instead, they were eventually darkened and moved out of the arena, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was introduced."
The technical difficulty with the rings made headlines and embarrassed Russia, proving that no matter how much dough you spend, things don't always go as planned. Of course, the show must go on, and the rest of the opening ceremony was, in our opinion, quite lovely and entertaining.