In recent times many elite triathletes have been talking about the lack of prize money on offer and the shallow pay downs that make it difficult for any but the top 5 in most major events to make money from the race itself (sponsors payments aside).
To add further insult one of the worlds richest triathlons has just announced a halving of it’s prize purse. Hy-Vee, which previously boasted a $1m+ prize pool has just announced that it is halving it to $500,000. Whilst it is still the richest Olympic distance triathlon this comes at a time when more and more elite triathletes are competing for some very limited prize money.
In addition it looks like the primes are gone.
This is a massive curve ball as many of the worlds top elite triathletes will have sponsorship contracts for 2013 tied to events like Hy-Vee. Swim, bike and run primes are often part of these.
Below is an excerpt from an email just sent out by the organisers.
- Better Race Conditions: Professional athletes will be racing in an earlier time slot with more favorable temperature conditions. This will tighten the overall schedule for the event providing increased flexibility.
- Prize Purse: The prize purse this year will be set at $500,000 for professional athletes. While this is a significant change from previous years, it is still the largest purse for any Olympic-distance triathlon.
- Updated Race Course: This year’s course begins and ends at Gray’s Lake. While the finish line will no longer be at the Capitol, we expect the change will increase the number of fans and media at the finish line.
There is always a lot of debate comparing the prize money offered in triathlon to other sports (golf, tennis etc) however it is drawing a long bow. Other sports like golf, tennis etc draw huge audiences who pay in very large numbers to turn up to watch the event live, the TV broadcast rights are worth mega dollars. For example the current figure that Seven (Australian TV) is offering Tennis Australia for the Australian Open is $21m. With this sort of money in the coffers it is very easy to pay large prize purses to the athletes.
If we look at other sports in Australia such as AFL the TV rights are worth $250m per year. These figures pale in to comparison when you start to look at the Premier League, NFL, NBA etc…
The only way that we can get decent prize money on a regular basis is to provide an elite competition like we used to have in the 1990s that is short, sharp and a lot of fun to watch. This then makes it available for TV, big brands and a large audience. The money will come. France has a great club system that enables up and comers to cut their teeth. The new mixed relay format and the old eliminator format are exciting to watch. In order to attract audiences there needs to be an exciting format.
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