Money in the Game

Money in the Game

16/11/2010 in General

When will the pro money across the board catch up with number of people in the sport?

Nearly every pro triathlete is living race paycheck to race paycheck. Last month I finished 3rd at one of the world’s most prestigious races, the LA Triathlon. I was only beaten by Bevan Docherty and Javier Gomez, together they have 2 Olympic medals, 4 World Championships, and are very much in the medal hunt in 2012. Finishing behind me, many more Olympians, I earned $2,000. The trip and entry fee cost nearly $1,000. Which means profit wise, under $1K. How many times a year can you race, 10-20. Most race 14-16. But every race you will not race out of your skin, maybe half of the races will be that profitable. So 7-8K to spend on food, rent, car, equipment, wait a second here…I am not just good, I am better, but in order to get insurance to pay for an ER or doctor visits, that will burn a good part of it.

The 10th percentile of professional athletes (football, golf, auto racing, baseball, hockey, ect) make more than the 90th percentile of triathletes, the interesting thing is, that according to statistics the people in triathlon are most influenced by what their peers are using. Not by commercials with LeBron in them. Triathlon is the fastest growing sport in the world, yet the prize purse at many of the big races have not changed in 20 years…look at LA!

Change is coming, hopefully it is soon before I get out of the sport.

My 2 cents,


  • Daniel Bretscher 17:46h, 16 November Reply

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject lately and I posted some of my own thoughts a few weeks ago on my blog, I invite you to read

    You say change is coming, but honestly, I don’t see it happening for some time. Pro triathletes are simply not sought after and valued the same as pros in other sports. We don’t carry much weight and have practically no leverage in trying to bring more money to the sport. You say people in triathlon are most influenced by what their peers are using, which I believe, but I don’t believe peers necessarily means pros. Case in point: Select a triathlete at random and ask them how many of Greg Bennett’s sponsors they can name. Most likely response: Who is Greg Bennett? Ask the same person to name the bikes the fellow members of their tri-club ride and they’ll likely name several. Ask them to name as many Peyton Manning or Lebron commericals as they can and most likely they’ll know a few…”Cut that meat!”

    That’s my take on things, triathlon is more of a lifestyle activity than a sport and therefore most people don’t know or don’t care about the pros. There are more and more races with pro purses popping up so that’s a plus and means the total money available to pros is slowly increasing. But I would also point out that along with this it is becoming more common to see the pros doing crazy things like racing three 70.3s in three weeks or five ironmans in a year. And all of these races require travel ie. the travel expense you write about. So in the end people are not really getting much richer because of the increase in supply of races, people are just racing way more, spending the increased money available on their travel to get to those races.

    Rather than adding more races with relatively small and poorly distributed prize purses (a la LA and NYC) I too would like to see bigger purses in the current races. Thereby make more money for the same amount of travel. But I just don’t see it happening until the sport changes and the pros are valued different. And I think it will either be a long time or never before this happens.

    Good post which brings on good discussion,

    ps. Clearwater pros called, they missed having you to sit behind and coast to a sub-2hr bike

  • Bruther 21:40h, 16 November Reply

    Pro money will catch up when (1) the race directors stop trying to make so much; or (2) when the public decides it is a sport they want to watch on a mass scale. If NASCAR fans were triathlon fans….now that is a funny concept….triathletes would be able to support themselves. I don’t ever see it happening so those who have decided to try a go at it need to face that fact and make a life decision rather than complain about it.

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