There is a cliché that says “money makes the world go round” but when is that taken too far? In part one of my blog titled Player Revolt I said that one of the issues bugging tennis players is the money they earn...
There is a cliché that says “money makes the world go round” but when is that taken too far? In part one of my blog titled Player Revolt I said that one of the issues bugging tennis players is the money they earn from on-court winnings. They want more. When does it ever become enough? The players feel they are entertainers, and that they are, and they should be getting a bigger cut of the takings. Look at the bigger picture guys; this is not a bottomless pit. We all believe we should be getting more money and that we’re worth more than what we are getting paid. Somdev Devvarman of India made that claim a few weeks ago and at the US Open Andy Roddick said that the players get only 12% of the takings while the US Open earns the USTA tens and tens of millions. I feel that I should get a greater percentage of a client’s income because 1.5million people are listening to me on broadcasts. If I said that I would very soon hear “mate either we won’t worry about tennis or we will get someone else”. You need to be realistic, don’t you think? At the US Open a first round loser earned $19,000 and the singles winners picked up $1.8million plus bonuses depending on how they finished in the US Open Series leading into the Open. Total prize money for the Open was $23.7million. The Australian Open has just announced that the respective singles winners will earn $A2.3million. How much more do they want? If a player can’t survive on $100,000 (191 ranked Jesse Huta Galung made that so far in 2011) then get another job. The top 14 made $1million+, top 4 made $3million+ and No.1 Novak Djokovic has so far made $10.5million+ in 2011. It’s also been revealed that the Roger Federer brand is worth $26million and is No2 in all sport. By the way RF has career on court earnings for $63million. Let’s not forget the thousands players earn from guarantees and endorsements as well. As a spectator to the tennis do you think that is enough? You tell us if you think it is or not. Do the players seriously think the money is lining people’s pockets? Give me a break. Think of where all those funds are directed. Maintenance of the tennis stadia, promotion of the game from advertising to websites, staff, office costs, development of the game so there are future players to continue the legacy of the game, savings for the future, payments to the players for playing Davis Cup and Fed Cup and the list goes on. Do you think the players would dip into their own pockets to promote themselves at a tournament? No and nor should they have to, that’s part of the event’s responsibility but to do that you need money, it doesn’t come free or even cheap. Where is that money coming from? Sponsors are struggling. Promoters have to get paid too. They are taking the greatest risk. Players are not taking the risk. Now let’s look at the angles. A player has a shorter tennis work career to make the money but it’s not as if they go into hibernation after they stop playing, they continue on in other walks of life so it’s not as if they will have no current income. Yes the players have travel expenses and trainers, coaches and managers to pay but then you have to wonder why some have so many hangers on. Money and personnel management should be a top priority. They have to put in hours of training and practice and matches and do media. 97% of players are not at a tournament from the very first ball being hit to the last point being played. They are not at a venue each day from the first point to the last point. Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted the other day (I’m paraphrasing) woke up, breakfast, practice, train, practice and then to dinner and bed. Now does that sound strenuous? Guys it’s your job. Just do it (there’s that manufacturer’s slogan again) and enjoy it, otherwise do something else. Every job has its pluses and minuses. Here’s an example of what I do. I am on call 24 hours from clients around the world and I am getting pulled left and right by clients. It’s a juggle. Then you have to sort out the technical issues with equipment that can be hair pulling. I have to be across everything with radio and TV crosses and in-between attend media conferences and prepare reports or start writing blogs or articles. That is just the tip of the iceberg but no complaints. I so remember Jim Courier saying to me the year after he retired (he was doing TV commentary at Wimbledon): “If I only knew when I was playing how hard you guys work.” During the US Open I was getting an average 3 to 4 hours sleep each night. I arrived from another event the day before the Open and left the day after (overnight flight) straight to the next event – Davis Cup in Spain. Got off the plane in Madrid, took a train to Cordoba and started working straight away, didn’t even unpack. Increase ticket prices and TV rights is one way players may say to cover the added costs but then two things will happen 1. Attendance will fall because fans will find it out of reach and TVs will say it’s too expensive which will cut event income and as a result events will start to fold and players will be without work 2. Even if a tournament continues the players will ask for the percentage of the added income. Here is an example of sorts from Andy Murray when he was asked if the US Open should start a day earlier: “If they want to put an extra day in, then they better increase the prize money substantially because it's an extra day's work for us.” Err you still play seven matches to win, not more so where’s the extra work. Guys this has got to stop somewhere and it’s up to you as role models in the sport to show responsibility. What is your proposed strike really going to do? It can only damage the sport and ultimately you and your reputation. Remember the world is in a financial crisis. You will not get the majority support. As a reader of wearetennis.com you tell us if you think I am being harsh or if the players deserve more. We want to hear from you.