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Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport

 

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milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 10:32

Post #1 of 56 (13266 views)
Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport Quote | Reply

I read the article at: http://www.dailytriathlon.com/...7%3ABlogPost%3A21183

This really adds alcohol to the wound. I'm not an Ironman athlete, but I love following endurance sports for the sole purpose of spectating the pros, just like the rest of America enjoys spectating football's and basketball's highly paid pros.

I feel Ironman is taking the path that marathon races took in the mid to late 80's and 90's - they started catering solely to the amateurs because that's where the money is. But, during that time, the average times for the entire field began to slow down dramatically - look at the Boston qualifying times in the 70s vs. the 90's. Boston, New York and Chicago started to lose the respect they had amassed in the 70's and early 80's with heros such as Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar. Look at these races today; they are paying top dollar in APPEARANCE fees in addition to cash prizes. (see article: IM is now charging pros, and providing no appearance fees)

People blame the economy on the Ironman cutting corners financially, but, as stated, look at Marathon.

Ironman races sell out in one day, the entry fees are outrageous, they whore out their logo whenever they can, why can't they pay top dollar to the pros? $100k for winning Hawaii is a joke. I should be $1million for 1st in Hawaii and the top 20 should get paid, with 20th getting at least $20k. All other IM events should pay $100k for the winner.

Some will say why do this when they can make so much money off of the amateurs. Why? Because it is amazing marketing. By doing this, you create heros within the sport of Ironman racing and with heros, you gain a larger audience and with that you can get more TV/internet coverage and ad revenue and bigger event sponsors. If you give to the pros who give their lives to competing in your events, you will get back 10 x what you put in public interests and attention. In the US, wealth = hero, especially if that wealth was gained in a non traditional way, such as through athletics.

To the average American, who is Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt?

They are athletes who compete in sports second tier in the minds of mainstream America who make as much as football and basketball players and for that reason alone, fascination with the sports of the rich and famous, America watches and obsesses over these athletes.

Leak to the public that the winner of Hawaii reaped $1million and they will become interested.

Last Question: Why is Hyvee paying out more than IM Hawaii for the top pro?

Answer: Ironman corp. is greedy, and unlike what Gecko may have said, Greed is not always good. Maybe Ironman corp. should look to Buffett, not Gecko, for business inspiration.


bikedude

Jan 30, 09 10:38

Post #2 of 56 (13236 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

just be happy you're not a mountain bike pro there was no money for winning a race last year, they got paid by there sponsors only. And 100K for a win is BIG money! pro's in most cycling sports make there money from there team contract and endorsement now winning races.
Dan...


milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 10:47

Post #3 of 56 (13189 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [bikedude] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

This is the typical, "Be happy with what you have."

But, look to marathon racing, as stated before. Ironman charges way more, sells out way faster, Hawaii gets better national tv coverage...

If 70.3 and Ironman races were not selling out, then I could see the reason to tighten down the screws, but that's not the case.

Why make excuses for Ironman's poor business practices. As stated earlier, they could come out better by putting their pros on a financial pedestal.


jackmott

Jan 30, 09 10:52

Post #4 of 56 (13167 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

miles, ironman charges more

but also costs more to put on

and also has far far fewer total entrants.

Marathon Houston had something like 30k people total paying to be part of the event, with some big name energy company sponsors.

and they pay the winner something like $30k

far less than the ironman hawaii winner


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Fleck

Jan 30, 09 10:55

Post #5 of 56 (13137 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

You mention Salazar, Rogers and Shorter. Ironically and amazingly that was still the days of the amateur athlete - those guys were not allowed to make any money back then or they would be disqualified from being able to compete in the Olympic Games. They did all that for nothing, but were likely getting some form of support under-the-table support. But it was all hush, hush.

Clearly the times have changed for sports of this kind and for the most part it's for the better. Although, in triathlon we have lagged behind. However, for those who lament the lack of money, you have to realize that the total pool of money the the sport is not that great - it never really has been. Main reason, despite it's popularity, in North America triathlon is still a fringe sport that outside of it's core constituency, which are essentially the participants themselves, their is little or no interest or following. Unfortunately, I don't see this changing dramatically any time soon.

Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog


smtyrrell99

Jan 30, 09 10:58

Post #6 of 56 (13120 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I would like IM to pay pros more. On that we are totally agreed. I also suspect, but don't know that they could pay more without and due financial hardship, but Idon't know that.

Where we truly disagree is that you state not paying more is poor business practice. Unless I'm missing something the only thing poor about IM business practice is that they don't charge more, and don't expand the number of races and number or entrants per race more. They are clearly leaving money on the table.

Styrrell


runningwilddave

Jan 30, 09 11:00

Post #7 of 56 (13109 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

"But, look to marathon racing, as stated before. Ironman charges way more, sells out way faster, Hawaii gets better national tv coverage..."

Major marathons also have way more people, and bring in more revenue:

30,000 people at $100/each is $3 million

2,500 people at $600/each is $1.5 million

Pretty big difference in absolute dollars there. There's also more runners to market to, so the shoe companies throw more money at the runners because its a bigger market to pull from. It wouldn't make sense for Cervelo to spend tons of money to sponsor ironman, because, in reality, how many bikes could they sell? The number is in the thousands, I'd guess. How many pairs of shoes does asics/nike sell? Millions.

The numbers all around are just bigger for the marathons. Triathlon, as 'big' as it's gotten, is still a pretty niche sport.


SlayerHatebreed

Jan 30, 09 11:00

Post #8 of 56 (13108 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

- Pros add little/nothing financially to these events. You can even argue that they cost the race $

- Venture Capital bought WTC/NAS

- Venture Capital companies are in it for the $$$, nothing more

This move should surprise no one. I too think it's a joke that 30 hour training weeks might equal an $8,000 payout if everything comes together but as has been said here a bunch of times: until a long term competitor enters the picture and builds a series to compete with WTC you can expect to see even less incentives for pros to race long course.


Fleck

Jan 30, 09 11:06

Post #9 of 56 (13054 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [SlayerHatebreed] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Pros add little/nothing financially to these events. You can even argue that they cost the race $

This is not true.

- The media local media, the triathlon media and sometimes other media cover the Pro race

- The Pro race is covered via Ironmanlive.com

- Most of the former NAS races had a TV Show that was made out of them and the Pro race was featured

While not adding absolute $$$ to the bottom line, the above does bring a lot of extra exposure to the event and it's sponsors that would not have been there, if there was no Pro race. Their is a value to that.



Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog

(This post was edited by Fleck on Jan 30, 09 11:10)


go.dog.go

Jan 30, 09 11:20

Post #10 of 56 (12980 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Does any body have a hint of Premiers intentions for IM. I speculate that they must plan on
much larger T V or some other revenue to have bought out Gills family and Grahm Frazier.
dog
.
..
.
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milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 11:21

Post #11 of 56 (12979 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [smtyrrell99] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I provided several reasons as to why it would make better business sense to pay the pros more. I'm sorry if I didn't explain that well enough, but I'd suggest going back and reading those reasons. With your logic: why advertise? why support growth? why pay bonuses? why give raises? all of those things take money off of the table. But, every successful business employs all of these tactics, which doesn't leave more money on the table immediately, but creates more money in the end.

Amazingly, the overall consensus here is to not pay the pros more.

Shorter (in the end of his career), Rodgers and Salazar were professional runners, from what I can find and have read. Salazar earned race prizes, bonuses and $250k from Nike when with Athletics West.

And, when saying that there is a larger market for runners and they buy shoes. How many shoes does it take to equal an entry level tri bike? tri bike shoes, helmet, wetsuit, running shoes, race clothes, winter clothes, swim gear, sun glasses, power meter, road bike for the early season? Which sport is growing faster % wise, running or triathlon?

And to the response, no one pays attention to the pros. Before football became a pro sport, college football was more popular. The public looks for idols and celebrities and triathlon, while having some of the best athletes in the world, has done a poor job of providing a pedestal for Americans to look up to. That pedestal needs to be made with a dollar sign and more than a 1 and 5 zeros to get American's attention.

I'll leave it at that. From what I gather from the responses so far, pressuring Ironman to do more is too much to ask, the paradigm satisfies most people here and change causes fear.


devashish_paul

Jan 30, 09 11:26

Post #12 of 56 (12953 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I agree 1000% with your post.

OK, maybe 100K for winning a local Ironman would be a joke, but just like reality TV if word is out that the winners (male and female) of Kona do $1M, then the interest in the mainstream gets better.

As a bare minimum, let's see $1M for the male pro that breaks sub 8 and female pro that goes sub 9 at Kona....

Dev

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departed

Jan 30, 09 11:30

Post #13 of 56 (12928 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [go.dog.go] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

In Reply To:
Does any body have a hint of Premiers intentions for IM. I speculate that they must plan on
much larger T V or some other revenue to have bought out Gills family and Grahm Frazier.
dog

You mean Graham Fraser? When did he sell?


jackmott

Jan 30, 09 11:31

Post #14 of 56 (12925 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [devashish_paul] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Now we have some good ideas.
huge payouts for huge, attention getting accomplishments


=)


In Reply To:
I agree 1000% with your post.

OK, maybe 100K for winning a local Ironman would be a joke, but just like reality TV if word is out that the winners (male and female) of Kona do $1M, then the interest in the mainstream gets better.

As a bare minimum, let's see $1M for the male pro that breaks sub 8 and female pro that goes sub 9 at Kona....

Dev


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Freelance sports & outdoors writer Kathryn Hunter


milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 11:37

Post #15 of 56 (12897 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [devashish_paul] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I like that, like the $1million on the line in the Dubai Marathon. Good idea!

But Dubai also provides appearance fees and I don't know if Kona, like Dubair, London, Berlin, has the best record setting conditions.

Maybe save the time incentives for places like Florida (heavy drafting regulation for the pros) and leave the WC's down to a pure race of tactics and strategy and pay out for that feat.

If there's no money in Ironman, how in the world is Hyvee, Life Time Fitness Series, and now Dextro World Chamionships Series paying their winners for sub 2 hour races more than the winners of Hawaii? (that should be embarrassing)


jackmott

Jan 30, 09 11:40

Post #16 of 56 (12882 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

But Dubai has a lot of cash to burn because americans buy SUVs so they can get up the road thata has leaves on it and fit their kid in the backseat.


Cascade Classic stage race report by Kat Hunter
Aeroweenie.com -Compendium of Aero Data and Knowledge
Freelance sports & outdoors writer Kathryn Hunter


SlayerHatebreed

Jan 30, 09 11:53

Post #17 of 56 (12832 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

There's $ in IM.. just ask some of the principles involved to see their tax returns or a listing of their personal properties.

Once again, until there's competition to draw pro athletes away from WTC there won't be fair compensation (whatever fair is I'm not sure).


devashish_paul

Jan 30, 09 12:05

Post #18 of 56 (12782 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [SlayerHatebreed] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

....like in the old days of Nice vs Kona. Kona almost died cause it had zero prize money and Nice was where all the action was. Of course it did not help that Mark Allen could not beat Dave Scott, which implicitly gave Kona legitimacy over Nice....if Allen was beating Dave Scott during his Nice winning streak and Kona was not giving out prize money, I bet that Nice would have gotten bigger and outstripped Kona/Ironman distance in prominence.

Frankly, it really is too bad, cause now the Ironman distance rules...however, this distance is a bad one. It is not a distance that pros can race often and it is not even a distance that age groupers really have a hope of racing...its just a survival contest.

Maybe Slowman and Skid can weigh in about the entire Nice vs Kona thing from back in the late 80's. It is pretty well forgotten today.


milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 12:05

Post #19 of 56 (12781 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [SlayerHatebreed] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Jack - good point on Dubai, so instead look to London, Berlin, NY, Chicago, Boston... they also offer appearance fees and big prizes.

Slayer: good point, the reason Boston had to get it together was because the other marathons were taking all of the top runners. Their laurels did not outweigh cash and media coverage.

I agree, one solution would be competing iron distance races with good media coverage and better cash prizes within the same month as official IM races. sounds like a call to arms.

It's IM execs lining their pockets vs. long term vision of elevating the sport through raising the status of IM pros, which will ultimately be more profitable. This is like the story of the man who meets his villages water needs by carrying buckets of water from the river to the village. he has a temp. monopoly, but then another fellow spent a good amount of time developing a pipeline to deliver the water. The IM folks can keep carrying the water and the villagers, afraid of change, will argue that this is the best way, but as soon as the pipeline shows up.... either IM gets their act together, or they are opening up a huge void in the market for competition.


cramer

Jan 30, 09 12:08

Post #20 of 56 (12764 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

In Reply To:
The public looks for idols and celebrities and triathlon, while having some of the best athletes in the world, has done a poor job of providing a pedestal for Americans to look up to. That pedestal needs to be made with a dollar sign and more than a 1 and 5 zeros to get American's attention.

The pedestal has never been made from a dollar sign, in any sport that has achieved success for their pros. You mentioned Tiger, Lance, and Phelps above. Let's take a closer look at them and the story of money in their sports.

Golf pros in the '50's were dirt-poor. All but a select few held full-time positions at clubs and juggled lessons with competition. By and large, they were considered second-class citizens. It wasn't until Arnold Palmer came along and captured the public's imagination that businesses got the idea that they could capitalize off of the attention he was getting. This led to sponsor dollars flowing in, both to individual professionals as well as to events themselves, increasing the prize purses beyond levels previously imaginable.

Nicklaus, Watson, Norman and other pinnacle pros kept the trend going, but Tiger once again provided a quantum leap forward. If you recall, he signed a contract with Nike and others before he'd played a single stroke of professional competition, but that was because he'd already captured the public's imagination and those sponsors recognized the opportunity.

Even with Lemond's three TdF victories, America did little more than yawn at the sport of cycling. Lance's early success in cycling, including any financial results, came primarily because he left America and went to Europe where the sport itself captured the public's imagination. After his comeback from cancer and 1999 victory in the TdF, America finally paid attention. The story of this cancer survivor who came back to win the reputed toughest endurance event in the world captured the American public's imagination in a way that Lemond's victories hadn't, and Lance reaped the rewards when the sponsors saw an opportunity to cash in on his popularity. The fact that he went on to repeat again and again, only heightened that popularity.

Phelps is perhaps the closest to actually paralleling your theory that throwing money at someone can create an idol. Coming into the 2004 summer olympics, media and sponsors recognized the potential history to be made and gambled that they could create a marketing blitz around it. So they hyped up the possibility of this swimmer breaking Spitz' historic record -- nothing so captures the imagination of the public than records falling and sports history in the making (just ask Tiger). It's important to note, though, that this possibility existed as a result of Phelps' own abilities. The media and sponsors couldn't simply have conjured up the same marketing around just any swimmer.

See a trend? If I've overused the phrase "capture the public's imagination" it's because that's the essential ingredient. It's not the public following the money to the sport -- it's the money following the public. And the critical question I think we have to ask ourselves is this: Who out there among the Ironman professionals has the ability to capture the public's imagination the way that Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps has done in their individual sports? Whose story has the possibility to transcend the sideshow-curiosity niche that triathlon holds in the eyes of the mainstream and make them think, "I need to follow this athlete, I need to find out how this ends!"

Find that person or that group of people, and you'll have found the hero we need.

cramer


Devlin

Jan 30, 09 12:14

Post #21 of 56 (12741 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

In Reply To:
I feel Ironman is taking the path that marathon races took in the mid to late 80's and 90's - they started catering solely to the amateurs because that's where the money is. But, during that time, the average times for the entire field began to slow down dramatically - look at the Boston qualifying times in the 70s vs. the 90's. Boston, New York and Chicago started to lose the respect they had amassed in the 70's and early 80's with heros such as Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar.
And of course, the fact that the US produced no top runners during that time internationally, and thus interest in distance running started dying down had nothing to do with the times getting slower. Also, the more you add people to an event, AVERAGE times will go down, simply because of the numbers game. The more you add people, the bigger the middle curve gets.

It's like chess. Chess was nowhere in America until Bobby Fischer. Then, clubs everywhere had people bringing their kids in, convinced they had the "next Bobby". Once he didn't defend, it died off dramatically, and it didn't recover those numbers until late in the 90's. Coincidentally when some Americans started doing better in chess, and you had movies like "Searching for Bobby Fischer".

Hrm. Not even sure that makes any sense, I had a point that I lost somewhere in the middle. Ah, well, should have some people saying "huh?" anyway...

John


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milesthedog

Jan 30, 09 12:19

Post #22 of 56 (12724 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [cramer] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

great points.

I'm around everday people, non endurance athletes, daily.

What do they talk about? How much NFL, NBA players make. They bring up Phelps because of the money he makes. They bring up Lance because of his celebrity status, they bring up Tiger because of the money he makes.

Yes, these people jumped out to capture the publics imagination. But, last time I checked, popular music and movies get known because of being over hyped. Do you want a hero in triathlon? Create it, throw money at it, everybody has story - publicize that story. Is Wellington not a Tiger? Is Potts not a Lebron?


SlayerHatebreed

Jan 30, 09 12:25

Post #23 of 56 (12695 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [milesthedog] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

That's what really concerns me re: the future success of WTC now that it probably has a shorter term view of profitability since the purchase.

Limiting the pro free entries may be the first step in eliminating any costs that the new group may seem as not a direct oppty for profits - not good news for the working class folks.

Interestingly, there's a new half in CT June 7th, the Rev 3 race that's taking a gamble inviting some top long coursers for a 100k payout. I'm weary that they are really opening the wallet a bit too much upfront but then again I'm not an accountant for the gent behind the scenes.

Either way, kudos for the race for stepping up, taking a chance at something that has some solid potential for the future. Even if it just turns out to be a one year affair it's a great oppty for some pros.


Bmanners

Jan 30, 09 12:25

Post #24 of 56 (12695 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [cramer] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I think Wellington might be the answer. She just needs to be promoted the right way. On another note I also agree with original poster. I have said it before . Who wants to put their body through the training it takes most to win a ironman when the payout does not equal your medical, travel and equipment exspenses. There should be a tier purse payout just like tennis. its amazing what 20th gets in most tennis tournies.
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geordiem

Jan 30, 09 12:30

Post #25 of 56 (12671 views)
Re: Pro Ironman Prize Money is Insulting and Damaging to the Sport [Devlin] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Runaway greed, blind capitalistic commercialism in the psychotic pursuit of profit.......now, I read about that somewhere recently but I just can't put my finger on it. All I can remember is that the story didn't end well for the purveyors.

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Ironman prize money
In the wake of the infamous 7th place prize money bonus at IMLP, where do you stand on Ironman's prize money? Is Ironman a penny pincher? Is the lack of a pro outcry the pros' own fault? Or is there no problem and the money is correct now?
Ironman should up prize money
Pros at fault for their timidity
The money is appropriate now