I think, if the athletes would do their sport only for the pleasure of doing sport, the sport would exist for the participants. But because the athletes do the sport as their full time job, the sport becomes for the spectators. As you rightly said, athletes needs to earn more than they pay for the training. The ISU is not paying them. Someone needs to pay them. In skating often the family funds their child's training. However, to have major competitions the money come from the spectators. If people wouldn't watch skating, there would probably be no world championships. If there were not spectators, there would not be need for paying for right to broadcast the event so that would mean even less income generated by the sport. So there must be some balance in making the sport attractive to spectators. So I think at the elite level I would say that the sport exist for the spectators, not for the participants.