It is already being ruined. You can see it. On the one hand, the runners are saying that they need money because this is how they earn their livelihood. But it is one thing to need money to live on and another thing to be greedy. Good runners definitely should get some money — but not $10,000 or $20,000. If they want that kind of money, they should go into another field. If someone wants to dedicate his life to running, he should open up a business — a running store or a health food store and use the money from that to support himself. Then he can run for the joy of it. But when a runner expects thousands and thousands of dollars for winning a race, he is only feeding his greed. In these cases the money is taking away all the cheerful, enlightening joy of the sport.
It is not a question of sour grapes; we are not criticising money-power because we ourselves are not good enough to win prize money. No! I am seeing how money-power has captured some good runners and is devouring them. When people competed in sports twenty or thirty years ago, they had much more innocent joy. Now, from the beginning to the end, some runners are only thinking about winning the prize.
If a runner is looking for real satisfaction, he will never get it from prize money. The New York Marathon gives $20,000 to the winner. But the runner who gets it may feel miserable that he did not run the Chicago Marathon or Boston Marathon, where the prize may be $30,000 or $40,000. He may say, "Why did I not wait for that one? If I had waited two more weeks, I could have run the Boston Marathon and gotten more money." Perhaps he has gotten $20,000, but because somebody else is getting $40,000, all his joy is going away. Joy is infinitely more important than money. If he did not care for money, he would say, "I have done my personal best here. I am so happy. Who knows if I would have done as well if I had joined the Chicago Marathon or the Boston Marathon." So when you keep money-power away, real wisdom-power comes.