If you are reading this, it is for one of two possible reasons: like me you have a healthy if not obsessive like for the sport of triathlon or you fancied having a giggle at my attempts to articulate a few words. I never proclaimed to be the next Arthur Conan Doyle so it’s probably triathlon and, well… something has been bothering me.
However before I start I should say this. I was taught never to seagull. That is to shit on an idea and fly off without offering a solution. So yes I do have a moan or two but I also offer some solutions. You might not like them but here’s my attempt…
Now I am a relative newcomer to the world of triathlon and three things have amazed me. Firstly just how popular the sport is! There are millions of people around the world taking part in this addictive sport! Two, it’s not as expensive to take part as people think. Rental companies and second hand gear have seen the cost drop considerably. And the third and most troubling issue is just how poorly run, paid and rewarded the elite side of the sport is. Now before you throw the laptop across the room or send me a load of hate mail via tweeter, hear me out.
Let’s start with Danny Lee. Who? Heard of him. Nope, I hadn’t either: until I read the 2015 PGA Golf money list and noted that he has earned $514,728 so far this year!! Yes you have read that right, he has earned that so far THIS YEAR!!
Now everyone has heard of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy but there are people on the golf money list earning a lot of money and most of them I have simply never heard of.
Recent reports have stated that Sky TV have brought the screening rights for the Golf Open from 2017 for 5 years. How much did they pay for an event which lasts 3 days a year? 75 Million Pounds!! This for a sport which still has some clubs that doesn’t allow female members! The home of golf, St Andrews only voted to allow female members in the summer of 2014.
Now golf, it could be argued, is an expensive sport. Certainly membership of my local club is over £1000 per year and that is before you look at clubs and lessons etc. In terms of comparison the sport of triathlon is relatively inexpensive. A quick search of the internet shows that the cost of joining a Triathlon clubs ranges from £10 to £125. So why is a sport which is more expensive and out of touch with society doing so much better? At a grass roots level I would argue that triathlon is superb and is growing faster than a lot of sports and Triathlon England should be congratulated however the elite side is simply shocking.
USA Triathlon lists elite events. Brilliant. That is until you note that to be listed as an elite event you have to offer prize money of $5000. Yes that wasn’t a misprint. It was dollars and was 5000! Golfers wouldn’t even pick up a club for that kind of money.
Before anyone gives me a hard time for picking on golf I should say that I do play the sport and actually enjoy it!! I could have chosen tennis, rugby or even football to make very similar points.
What about the elite events themselves? Yes there are the ITU events and Kona for the Iron Man but it all feels a little bit 10 pence short. Yes we have the London Triathlon which has a lot of attention and gets TV coverage but I’d like to see more. The solution? Well as you ask. Where are the grand slams? Why can’t we have 4-6 grand slam events across all distances? Yes the ITU is great but we need more. Who is going after the big sponsorship deals? The TV companies? This is never going to affect me but I am surprised the professionals haven’t made more of a fuss.
We have some world class brands like Huub who are leading the way with innervation and products that wow the market!! Truly a world brand (though it has been pointed out that they are a very small company….just exceptionally good at what they do…Deano, please note that I got that in). I would like to see others though! Companies encouraged by sports leaders to invest and produce products that help and wow like Huub does.
The professionals? Now this might be a little controversial but I think there are too many! I think there are too many very good age groupers who muddy the lines and get their race license but aren’t really a professional. Personally I’d like to see 4 groups. Club members, age groupers who get to wear the GB badge (or whatever country they represent), elite age groupers who are in a field of their own and then the professionals.
In short, the grass roots aspect of triathlon is brilliant but so much more could and should be done for the professionals. I could write for hours about this, though tried to keep it under a 1000 words so you don’t fall asleep. There are some real easy wins out there but we just don’t seem to go for it.
Anyway, enough of me moaning, time to watch some golf on TV.