Originally posted by @vivify
The Chinese do the same for the Olympics, through "sport schools". The downside is that these schools leave children very unprepared for anything other Olympic competition. Gold medal winners from China have often been found homeless. China's government usually doesn't help them once they've outlived their athletic usefulness.
A few years ago, China atte ...[text shortened]...
American allegations about the value of GM norms have caused some upset. I was amused to notice that Ben Finegold (American GM) has insulted Simon Williams (British GM) with the suggestion that his GM title was not merited, and the two are lining up for a grudge match in October to settle the question in the best possible way over the board.
The Soviets and Chinese (belatedly) certainly see no difficulty in treating sports players as public professionals, but I am not sure the rewards for the successful perfomers compare with those of the most successful stars in the West. Plenty of chess players from soviet countries have taken up residence in western countries and done very well by playing professionally. One benefit of the tournament circuit is that you don't need official permission to play, though there are issues in the West as much as the East about invitations to select events and who gets the best opportunities to achieve their "norms."
In the West - certainly in Europe - there is a lot of public money spent on sport in diverse forms and amateur sport up to Olympic levels is often subsidised in many ways. Players who turn professional have often had a lot of assistance to reach the required standard.
In English football there is frequent discussion of the way top clubs pick up young talented players and bring them into their "academies." The successful few can move on to make a fortune while the others are spat out but there has always been an argument that English professionals are vastly less educated than their counterparts in a country like Holland. This is reflected in many aspects of their behaviour, and the average English football professional is a thick lout by any standard, for all their disgusting wealth, but it is also considered to be reflected in the disappointing way the national team plays. A country with the most competitive home leagues somehow can't produce a world class national team. Generally, lack of education is a handicap on many levels.