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  • pay cuts coming for athletes?

    Rumor has it that one of the biggest meets (i.e., Diamond-League level) on the European Circuit won't be paying any appearance money this year.

    (I've no problem with elimination of such fees, but not when it means that the money just disappears. They're apparently not converting it to extra prize money or anything else that benefits the athletes.)

  • #2
    I am of the impression that athletes (also) compete for the sake of bettering their marks and improving their best efforts in addition to attaining a certain salary level for their efforts. With the absense of one, it does not mean that the other must suffer.

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    • #3
      It does, if enough of them decide it's not worth their while to keep competing. Remember that in the pre-professional era, many post-collegians just dropped out of the sport because they couldn't afford to spend the time required to train to be at the top level. Money (prize, appearance, and sponsorship) has kept a lot of athletes going longer than they might otherwise.

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      • #4
        The people who win all the medals these days (OK, only 99.999%), if asked their occupation, would say "professional athlete."

        Appearance fees are a large part of their staying financially solvent (particularly American athletes who don't receive the same kind of subventions many other nations provide). The "thrill of victory" only lasts so long.

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        • #5
          Without the financial structure that we're familiar with--which, granted, is highly elitist, favoring the extremely good far above the merely promising--the sport could revert to some simulacrum of a much earlier era--the 1920s/30s, perhaps?

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          • #6
            The pertinent question is: Where does the money go? Is it used to fill out the
            wallets of the meet arrangers? To compensate for sponsor cancellations?
            Something else?

            As a side-note, I am opposed specifically to appearance money: Prize money is
            fine, as are WR bonuses and money tied at particular results (say winning the
            100m in a 9.7x). However, this money should not be tied to specific
            individuals: If a 9.7x bonus is set to lure Bolt in, but the race is won in
            that time range by Joe Average, then the latter should be equally entitled to
            the bonus.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kuha
              Without the financial structure that we're familiar with--which, granted, is highly elitist, favoring the extremely good far above the merely promising--the sport could revert to some simulacrum of a much earlier era--the 1920s/30s, perhaps?
              Don't need to go that far back. Nice story on my college teammate, Rick Riley (HS recordholder in the 2M between Lindgren and Pre) on the front page yesterday. This included:

              <<....Riley reflected on his career during a time when there was little cash to be earned and performance-enhancing drugs were unheard of.

              "There was some under-the-table money, but not hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said. "You lived in a two-bedroom apartment, existed on food stamps and travel money from races. Your dream was to make the Olympics and maybe a medal, not a living. I learned early that running was not a payday, but for my own personal satisfaction."...>>

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              • #8
                Yes, I have a pretty good sense of what the late '60s and '70s was like--and it was just fine then. BUT, the sport has shriveled in everyone's awareness since then, crowded out by a host of other things. The withdrawal of our current professional financial support structure would mean you'd have a smaller pool of athletes--training and competing just for the fun of it--with fewer meets, next to no media attention, fewer clubs, etc. I'm not saying that's "all bad"--just that I honestly believe the clock would be rolled back further than to ca. 1970.

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                • #9
                  Just finished reading "A Cold Clear Day," a biography on U.S. marathon great Buddy Edelen. One of the fine things about the book is how it portrays the lifestyles of elites in the 1960s.
                  Edelen lived in a one-room flat in London, worked full-time as a school teacher (he usually ran to work and ran home as part of his training), raced an average of 42 times per year including club cross country meets, road races and international marathons, and maybe once or twice earned as much as $500 in prize money.
                  For one event in another country, which he won, the prize was a piece of furniture he had to defer to the second-place finisher because Buddy couldn't transport it home (where it probably wouldn't have fit in his flat anyway).
                  His hometown folks in Minnesota took up a collection so Buddy could afford to return to the U.S. for the '64 Trials.
                  And Buddy never ran Boston during his peak years because he couldn't afford the trip, and Jock Semple claimed he didn't have the money to bring him over.

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                  • #10
                    Even today, at least here in the US, if you are not at the top tier in a money-making event you aren't making much of a living. It is like they live an extended life as a poor college kid. Very sad compared to what happens to athletes their age in money-making sports.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by imaginative
                      As a side-note, I am opposed specifically to appearance money
                      But our current system--at least the regular, GP circuit--depends on this. Appearance money allows a meet director to guarantee that top names X, Y, and Z will be there--encouraging a healthy sale of tickets, potential media interest, etc.

                      A system that allows top athletes to decide two days before a meet whether to compete or not, or which allows them to cancel the day of the meet without any financial penalty, would be fantastic for them in the(very) short run--but a killer for meet directors amd the paying crowd.

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                      • #12
                        i dont think the elimination of prize money will make any difference.
                        the people who get the appearance money are basically the people that dont need it, people lie usain bolt, k. bekele, geb etc. these very few stars make lots of money from sponsors, endorsements etc. an an athlete lets say a sprinter hoping to but has yet to get under 10 for the 100, ot 20 for the 200 i dont think would get much if any appearance money anyway.

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                        • #13
                          Bolt must be exempt from this because Bolt is in such high demand on the circuit, he currently commands about $200,000 per race as per several news reports.

                          Bolt is certainly not going to run in Europe for free.
                          Cows need love too

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                          • #14
                            i dont think the elimination of prize money will make any difference.
                            the people who get the appearance money are basically the people that dont need it, people lie usain bolt, k. bekele, geb etc. these very few stars make lots of money from sponsors, endorsements etc. an an athlete lets say a sprinter hoping to but has yet to get under 10 for the 100, or 20 seconds for the 200 i dont think would get much if any appearance money anyway.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by imaginative
                              As a side-note, I am opposed specifically to appearance money:.
                              I understand what you mean, and agree with you to an extent, but step back a bit and think what the track world would be like with only prize money. It would be a lot like the US road racing scene, which foolishly has abandoned appearance fees for the most part, and now is a series of boring races with Africans taking the first 20 spots.

                              Nothing against the African road racers. They're fantastic athletes who are doing nothing wrong. But the race directors don't realize that they're producing a boring product. If they took a portion of the money that they put toward prize and put it toward attracting a few top Americans, perhaps a few Europeans, Australians, etc., producing an interesting mixed field with some home country athletes for fans to cheer for/relate to, they'd be much better off.

                              Should the DN Galan meet not pay appearance fees to Kluft, Kallur (and Holm, Bergqvist, Olsson, when they were competing) to pack the stands and instead just have prize money on offer for whoever is willing to show up and compete?

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