desert dude wrote:
Lots of us pay professional dues for various industry associations. We pay some $$$ to practice our professions in our country or internationally. I know it seems backwards, but by paying in, we help subsidize a framework that allows us to practice our professions under certain rules and obligations. I don't see this being that different. Rapp is correct, that the some of the stuff is pretty basic and is not that indifferent from every other industry in terms of how professionals have to behave.
Pro's pay a licensing fee to their NGB to race as a pro. The NGB is tasked by the ITU to set the standards for the industry. WTC then makes them pay another pro licensing fee to race as a WTC pro. WTC is acting more like a NGB than a race production business with some of their terms/practices/requirements.
I agree with you that they are acting like a quasi international governing body which they are for their own races. Definitely an overlap between what WTC and the ITU/NGBs do. In any case, it is neither here nor there. As people tell us age groupers all the time, if you don't like how WTC runs their races, there are other choices and they are a private company can do what they want. I don't really buy into the "they are a private company and can do what they want" BECAUSE they have chosen to act like an NGB in many cases. And because they do so, there should be two way accountability with pros and age groupers.
I view them more similar to the NHL who run their own game under their own rules, setting their own championships and run in parallel to the International Ice Hockey Federation which runs its own championship and is the link for Ice Hockey into the Olympics. Every other aspect of hockey outside of the NHL is run by the IIHF. The two co exist, but the NHL pretty well does whatever the heck it wants, with some minor "collaboration" so that both can make money off each other's existence. Technically, some out of competition WADA guy should be able to walk over to the home of any NHLer, and test them, but from what I recall, none of the NHL guys are in a testing pool until they are named to a national team for the Olympics or IIHF championship and shockingly no one ever tests positive anyway. At least no one from the NHL does...usually they will token nail some tier 3 minor league guy.
All this to say, yes the pros pay to play at the WTC house, but once inside the house, like any league there are some formal and informal house rules. We all have that in our companies, and we have that in our interactions with our customers and partners. We don't need to be rocket scientists to figure this out.
Also one more thing in terms of how Ironman CEO is communicating, related to Marcel's post about doing all this in public not being productive (which I agree with). Unlike cycling, football or hockey pros that are under contract to teams, WTC IM pros are really more like freelance guys who happen to pay a small fee to play in the WTC house. If you get paid $250K to ride for Saxo Tinkhoff, or $5M to play for the New York Giants, you're going to keep you mouth shut and not complain too much (publicly) about the organization. Andrew, coming from the bike racing world is used to this type of "professional response" from players. Triathlon pro situation is different. They pay $800 (or whatever the number is) to enter the WTC casino with a chance to make some up side coin, but they could just as easily leave the casino with zero. Pros in other sports are certain to make their base pay and will act publicly in unison with the organization from which they get guaranteed pay. The WTC casino house does not guarantee pay, just the chance of it, so asking for pro behavior in public will be a harder challenge than in other sports, especially if many pros don't see the casino odds being that great".
But coming back to what Slowman said many years ago....race wins are not about how much prize money, its about WTC giving athletes a platform from which they can leverage further revenue from business opportunities and sponsorships. I actually wish that Andrew comes back to this point rather than defending the prize purse total payout, which by all accounts from the "rolled up view" is half decent ($4M is like running a cycling team of 20 members with $100K salary for each and $2M equipment/travel etc). From what I recall, rolled up prize money for the Tour de France is in the range of 2M Euros.
I think Andrew needs to emphasize that he is giving pros the opportunity to win races and market themselves. Why should WTC pay the pros more, when arguably, companies like Cervelo, Specialized, Saucony etc etc etc, don't have to lift a finger to create the race series/production, while they benefit so much from the work that WTC does. Look at transition in any race....how much money is there in hardware versus how much money WTC gets in entry fees ($5000 per bike vs $800 entry fee) ? Bike companies are making a lot more revenue than WTC, so are running shoe companies, so Andrew needs to turn it around on all these "partners" getting a free ride on WTC. WTC gives the pros the platform and $4M of payout. The rest, the industry can step up and deliver on. "Pros and companies, you guys go figure it out, but without our races, you have no racing going on to leverage, so we're all in it together. We give pros the platform and we give all the suppliers a market (age groupers) to sell into"
Rather than telling pros how to behave, I'd personally focus on the upside that they are offering pros. No one likes to be told how to behave, but everyone likes to hear about an opportunity. He should focus on the opportunity. It is no different than cyclists in the Tour de France...no one is talking about the prize money for a stage win, about the money for the Green or Polka dot Jersey or the payout on the Champs for the Yellow. All of this gives the riders and team a platform to negotiate with future sponsors or team management (whose revenues come from sponsors). Very few are critical of the TdF for their $2M Euro payout, which is paltry compared to the revenue that ASO rakes in.
WTC/Ironman is like the Tour de France of cycling in that respect. Heck even age groupers market themselves as Ironman podium winners all the time. This is the angle that WTC needs to push. Jordan Rapp got it a long time ago...he said something along the lines of, "I get more about being IM Canada or IM Arizona champion than 24th at Kona, so until I can contend in Kona I am not going".
See, he got it that the platform was worth the most. Oh, and he also figured out how to comport himself in the market but does so with credibility. He's is transparent and can be highly critical, but does it with meat and substance behind his thoughts. Not 1 line tweets with zero context that can be taken out of hand. Same thing with Brandon Marsh. So these guys automatically get credibility, far beyond their stature that comes exclusively with speed.