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post #1 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 06:40 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tenni...our/53538094/1

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – When billionaire owner Larry Ellison offered to sweeten the pot for this year's BNP Paribas Open— boosting the singles winner's check to a cool $1 million — it appeared to be prize-money manna from heaven.


By Debby Wong, US Presswire

But Ellison dangled his dough with strings attached.
The take-it-or-leave-it deal stipulated that his extra $700,000 would go to the final three rounds, from the quarterfinals on (a much smaller portion would go to doubles).
STORY: Djokovic, Azarenka advance
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The winner's check would thus jump 64% from $611,000 to $1 million from the previous year. By contrast, first-round losers would pick up $7,709 instead of $7,115, a $594 bump equivalent to 8%.
That put the ATP World Tour in a squeeze. Take Ellison's money, and earlier rounds would be shut out. Turn it down, and deny income to players.
In the end, the tour accepted Ellison's offer. The decision rankled some in the game.
But it also highlighted a little publicized but growing income inequality in men's tennis that's not unlike the wealth disparity shaping political discourse across the country.

A USA TODAY analysis of the Association of Tennis Professionals prize money from 1990-2011 shows the wealth disparity between players ranked in the top 100 has never been greater. The study, which uses a commonly accepted method of measuring income distribution called the Gini co-efficient, also demonstrates that the gap has been greater over the course of the past three years than ever since the ATP's inception in 1990.
The prize money figures also include money earned at the four majors, which are not governed by the ATP.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have shared the top three ranking spots since 2007, have been more dominate in terms of prize money accumulation than any trio since the men's tour was formed more than two decades ago. They've raked in between 20% and 26% of available prize money the past five years. The only other trio ever to break 20% was Federer-Nadal-Andy Roddick in 2006.
The 20% mark had never been crossed before — not in the heydays of the Boris Becker-Stefan Edberg-Ivan Lendl or Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi-Jim Courier rivalries.
"It's really bad," says Michael Russell, 33, a veteran who has never ranked higher than No. 60 in his 14-year career. "It's been going on a long time. You look at the difference of a guy ranked 80 and a guy ranked 10. They are going to make a lot more money, but the differences are astronomical. Compared to other sports, it's not even close."
Recent prize money inequalities reflect an extraordinary era of dominance by the top three. Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer have won 11 of the past 12 majors and 17 of 27 Masters 1000 events, the biggest tournaments after the four Grand Slams.
"There's no doubt that the domination of top four (including Andy Murray) has impacted the distribution of prize money," said ATP CEO Brad Drewett, who looked the data Wednesday but said he could not offer much insight without further examination. "My instinct is that this chart reflects this domination rather than any other trend."
Their domination doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.
Several players decried the uneven weighting in latter rounds of events. At the BNP Paribas Open, for instance, the difference between runner-up and winner is $500,000, or half of the winner's prize.
"I have a little bit of a problem at tour events where winner gets almost double of what you make from finalist," American Robby Ginepri says.

Another factor that could be contributing to the wealth disparity is the slower pace of growth at the lower-tier Challenger level, since a portion of the top-100 players earn prize money from competing at these events.
From 1990 to 2011, total ATP prize money went from $33.8 million to $80.1 million in 2011, a 137% increase. Over the same period, total Challenger prize money barely doubled to $10.2 million from $4.9 million and even has fallen from a high of $12.3 million in 2008.
For those pros trying to break in, it can be tough to meet expense that includes travel, coaching, hotels and equipment.
"You just have to invest in yourself and pray to god that everything goes well," says Dennis Kudla, a 19-year-old American who lost to Federer in the second round. "There definitely is not enough money to have everything that these top guys have."
Not everyone sees it that way, however.
"People don't love tennis because of Challenger-level tennis," says fellow 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison. "People don't follow the Challenger players. It's a stepping stone that you know is a process you have to go through."
Federer, a 30-year-old with a record 16 major singles titles, is well aware of the building discontent among the rank-and-file. He is president of the Player Council.
He understands that it's more "sexy" to offer a big winner's check and that it's hard to say no when someone offers more money, strings or no strings.
Everyone, he says, has an equal shot to win it. But Federer isn't numb to the needs of players at the other end of the spectrum.
"I believe it's a winner's tour, so the money is there for everyone to play for," he said in a recent conference call. "But at the same time, we wish as well that the lower rounds would also get a bigger raise as well.
"Obviously it's an important task for the council and the board to make sure all the lower rounds get a bigger raise in the future."

Money has been front and center since the beginning of the year.
At the Australian Open, a chorus of discontent arose around what players see as the disproportionate amount of money being paid out by the four Grand Slam events, which operate independently from a financial standpoint. Regular tour events contribute 30% or more of revenues to prize money, while the four majors remain considerably lower — around 11-13%, players say.
That gap has generated strong emotions and calls work stoppages or other actions.
While extracting concessions from the majors is one issue, some are fighting to rectify what they see as wealth gap within the tour.
One of those is Sergiy Stakhovsky. The 76th-ranked Ukrainian has been one of the most vocal players behind the scenes, advocating a more even spread across all rounds at events.
"We are not interested in counting somebody's money," he says. "If somebody is winning it, he's winning it….But it should be equal."
Most players agree that the top players bring in fans and sponsorships and deserve a bigger cut of the pie.
"You can't really harp on the people selling the tickets of the sport that you're a part of," Harrison says.
But they also say that the money is too heavily skewed toward later rounds, especially when stars already receive guarantees - big sums paid out by tournaments organizers just to show up.
As veteran Russell says, "You need other guys to make up a whole tour just like in golf and other sports. It would be nice if it were spread around a little more. We need the top guys to stand up and help everyone else out a little bit more."
No one seems certain that there will be solutions anytime soon.
"It's like a Civil War going on inside of the sport," says Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion. "I don't know that it's ever gonna work unless people put the best interests of the game ahead of the best interests of themselves. We don't have a history of doing that in tennis."
Contributing: Ryan Rodenberg
A very interesting read, I understand the big names are what bring crowds and attract audiences but the difference is incredibly big, I believe prize money should be more equally divided since the top guys got huge amounts of cash by appareance fees and advertising contracts.

This is a lot like the inequality of tv money in La Liga in Spain, one of the reasons why no one can challenge RM and BCN for the title.

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post #2 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 07:09 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

This forum represents the majority of "average" tennis fans-------they're PLAYER fans who only really follow the elite players and big names, in big events. Tennis is different than other sports in that regard. You'll see teams that are consistently bad in other sports still continue to have die-hard fans and attain revenue. That doesn't happen in tennis because the average tennis fan only cares about the top players. So, nothing will change. The ATP doesn't care about the lower-ranked players at all. I don't really think Roger, Rafa and some of these others guys who say they care, actually do so. They're making their money. And, ultimately, like Harrison said, it's those guys who are bringing in the attention. Nothing will change for that reason.
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post #3 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 07:40 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

Ryan speaking the truth as usual. If you're "only" a top 100 player and not happy with the money you're making then get another job.
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post #4 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 07:49 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

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"People don't love tennis because of Challenger-level tennis," says fellow 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison. "People don't follow the Challenger players. It's a stepping stone that you know is a process you have to go through."
I love how Harrison comes in running his mouth as if he isn't in the middling ground between challengers and the tour. He seriously talks like he is a top 5 player.

Shut the hell up. You don't matter and never will.

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post #5 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 07:58 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

It's an interesting conundrum because once you get to the top 4, I don't think that prize money constitutes half of what the players earn. Federer got something like 6 million dollars in prize money last year but he made 52 million overall so prize money, for him, is just a small piece of the pie. Djokovic supposedly has a 20 million dollar agreement with HEAD, probably has some equity or other stake in Sergio Tacchini. Nadal rakes in the big bucks too with all his endorsements so it's not like any of these guys need the prize money, they're playing into the latter rounds of the mandatory Masters Series for the points, rankings and bragging rights more than anything. I remember getting a strange look from Federer when I was joking with another fan about what a strange zoo it was (practice courts in a tournament) and I said something like, "Yeah, all the animals here make 70 million bucks a year."

I think one thing that would prevent the money being redistributed to the lower end of the scale is not so much the top tier (aka Fedal, Djokovic, Murray) but the second tier of guys such as the Mardy Fishes, the Berdychs, the Davydenkos, the Monacos, the Wawrinkas and the Isners. These are guys who benefit from the protection that seeding gives them, don't receive as much sponsorship money as the Top 4 and for whom prize money is 40-50% of their annual income. I think that the cash in an MS is pretty immaterial to guys like Fedal who are each worth a couple hundred million dollars already and even for the Djoker and Murray who are well approaching (or past) that fifty-million dollar mark. The protest will come from the second-tier, the supporting cast that stays unti the latter parts of the big tournaments but are not so well-known that prize money is not a consideration for them.

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post #6 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 08:30 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

Challenger level prizemoney hasn't increased since the 80s relatively to the amount of money on tour. It's not important to the vast majority of gloryhunters and nuthuggers.

All the levels need to be flourishing, having a top 4 like this, only papers over the cracks. There are scheduling issues, the lack of an off season to recover from the wear and tear of the previous ones. So what they do increase the points at Challengers, but not the cash.

Mikey Russell is one of the smarter guys on tour and not someone who whines in general. He is right on the money here, but the ATP have never cared about the governance of the game or anyone who can't make them money. It's not going to change at any point soon.

It's no different than other sports the higher up the food chain, more recognition is received through sponsorship, when they speak their words are analysed to death and taken out of context to suit a certain viewpoint.

The top guys of course deserve more of the pie, no one denies that at all, but the income distribution through the levels is very poor relative to other sports.

Whole lot of nothing will change. The ITF are even worse.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

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I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1

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post #7 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 08:36 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

ATP/ITF are a joke wrt how they treat lower ranked players.

All about the money, as always

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post #8 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 09:02 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

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Originally Posted by Serenidad View Post
I love how Harrison comes in running his mouth as if he isn't in the middling ground between challengers and the tour. He seriously talks like he is a top 5 player.

Shut the hell up. You don't matter and never will.
But did he lie?
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post #9 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 09:38 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

It's interesting because tennis now is in a much better state than when the TMC or WTF or whatever the hell it's called was held at Mattress Mac's venue but the same financial concerns are there for the guys at the bottom of the food chain. I can definitely see some improvements with how the players are being marketed and how the tour is handled but it's still not enough to address the inequality issues.

I think one of the problems with how tennis has been marketed these past few years is that it's always related to a prominent player's storyline. For instance, tennis was pretty dull until Federer came along and then suddenly the storyline fed to the media was "Will he ever beat Sampras' record?" And then Nadal came along and the storyline was "Is Nadal going to beat Federer's record?" Now of course are the two other stories that take precedence in the media: "Will Murray ever win a Slam?" and "Witness the second coming of Lendl, Monsieur Djokovic." Unless you're part of a player's native country, most of the world's press seem concerned with those storylines and they don't even consider the other guys in the sport. It's a shame because the sport has so many great, articulate personalities and all of them are engaging in their own way, with their own personal struggles.

However, I also think that Twitter or self-authored blogs are going to play a large part in how the lower-ranked players market themselves to the fans and eventually I think this could help them in their campaign for equity. Consider Karlovic who has elevated the tennis tweet into sheer comedic genius-- he's used his twitter account to build a following and then as a platform for his views on compensation and how GS's should share the profits with the players. Players who are smart enough to use twitter or blogs to build a following (i.e. Tursunov) are in a much better position to negotiate for compensation reform than the guys who just shut up and take it. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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post #10 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 10:10 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

This seems to be the problem that actually affects majority of the players on tour, not the discussed-to-the-point-of-exhaustion season length issue.
I do think the top players need to step up here really and use their influence in a good way. They will still rake the millions right?

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I love how Harrison comes in running his mouth as if he isn't in the middling ground between challengers and the tour. He seriously talks like he is a top 5 player.

Shut the hell up. You don't matter and never will.
Yeah and some internet noob who has never picked up a racquet and has too much time in his hand knows better

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post #11 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 10:18 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

I've known about this prize money issue for a while and it really annoys me. The solution is so simple yet it keeps getting further away. I really feel for the lower ranked players battling to survive financially.
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post #12 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 10:20 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

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I've known about this prize money issue for a while and it really annoys me. The solution is so simple yet it keeps getting further away. I really feel for the lower ranked players battling to survive financially.
Too logical.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

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Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #13 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 11:17 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

It's really serious, but you know, life is naturally not fair. It's quite sad for tennis to know that last year, some Colombian (?) journeyman was struggling to find money just for his travel to Roland Garros to play the qualification rounds.
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post #14 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 11:46 AM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

I've said for a long time that it's stupid that the top guys make so much but the guys around 80-100 in the world makes peanuts in comparsion. On the other hand it shares some similairity with golf, boxing and other indiviual sports where the top often are waaaaaaaaay above the rest in income. Can't really compare to football(soccer), icehockey, basketball, baseball and such team sports that has an entirely different business situation

But I think for the average fan remember that when you watch some top50 player and see that he's made a million over his career don't think of him as a millionaire. Remember all the expenses over the years and also just think about how much you can make yourself with honest work over 10 years. Tennis pro doesn't mean you are automatically set for life, unless you are at the very top

makes me appreciate those lower ranked guys more. They are fighters and their life aren't as glamourous as one might think. Only so-so income and all that travel and hard training
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post #15 of 118 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 12:38 PM
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Re: Income inequality grows on ATP Tour

Well that's true but some of the pros make a decent living out of playing the Interclubs in Germany and in France. True, it doesn't help the rankings much but if they're talking about material comfort one can make a decent living at the Interclub level in Europe for a few years. If I am not mistaken, Davydenko and Gaston Gaudio did it, as well as Callieri. (But don't quote me on that, I am not too sure) The money is good and I believe that they cover the living expenses. I think Gilles Simon still does it, so you have a range of quality players and other lower-ranked guys who can make a decent living.

Of course, the tradeoff with Interclubs is you don't get any ATP points out of it and you have to be at a somewhat decent level before a club will take you on. But if someone wants to build up a warchest of savings, I believe this is the route that is taken by many pros who are starting out before they go on to the ATP.

It also probably helps to have a strong tennis federation behind you who is willing to foot the bill for coaches and training, grant WCs to events and so on.

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