In the first installment of this article we looked at the disparity of pay in the upcoming BJJ”Pro” event, held by the IBJJF. We also broke down the math (with some assumptions) and attempted to determine the mechanics behind this disparity.
In the second installment, we looked at other sports organizations to see if they showed a similar disparity. We looked specifically at individual competitive sports in an effort to do an apples-to-apples comparison. What we found is that some very successful organizations are giving equal pay to both men and women. Chess appeared to be the standout, although at least they were giving decent prize money. This finding, that sports like Tennis and Bowling can manage to payout equally for men and women, leads us to the question: How? and WHY can’t Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Chess do the same?
In this, the third installment of our article, we will delve into the mechanics behind the payouts in all four of our case studies: Tennis, Bowling, Chess and Jiu-Jitsu in order to determine (if possible) the reasons why Jiu-Jitsu (and maybe Chess) shows such a disparity in payouts for men vs women.
Let’s stay on track and start with tennis.
I’ll be honest, this information was VERY hard to track down. The ATP as well as the individual clubs involved tend to be very tight lipped about who pays what and how much. I focused in on the Wimbledon Championship which, as we saw in the previous installment, is one of the largest payouts in the sport. What I was able to find is this:
According to this article, Wimbledon brings in about $15M US annually from sponsors (This includes Rolex, American Express, Jaguar, IBM, Hertz rental cars, Ralph Lauren, HSBC, and a bunch more). According to the same article, Wimbledon brings in about $13M US from NBC and it is safe to presume that the BBC (the British carrier for the tournament would pay roughly the same) *Note that this does not include French, German, Chinese or any other national broadcasting revenue. If we do the quick math we can see that the tournament brings in at least $41M US from broadcasting rights and sponsor-ships (although, with a few assumptions for foreign broadcasting that number can easily jump past $100M US).
Whoa! That is a LOT of money. This doesn’t include ticket sales (which account for about 10% of gross revenue –source).
Now, the total competitor payout for the 2015 Wimbledon (all payouts in all brackets and divisions) was just short of $42M. Beyond that is ticket sales, merchandising, food and beverage sales, etc. but, clearly, Wimbledon doesn’t need those tertiary profits to cover the payouts.
These numbers seem to indicate (pretty clearly, I might add) that the Wimbledon committee settles their sponsorship and broadcast commitments and then bases payout on that number.
I realize that these are HUGE numbers but the message is clear: Prize money is based on Sponsorship money!
This is pretty compelling, but let’s see if our second case-study reinforces the results of our first.
The Professional Bowling Tour has six major sponsors which, according to this article each pay at least $100,000, up to $200,000 U.S. from Geico (their largest, whole tour sponsor). Quick math says, something around $700,000 U.S. + (again, this does not include ticket sales, broadcast deals, and entry fees – yes, there is ~$1100.00 US fee to participate in the entire season). A look at the total payouts for the year: just short of $445,000.00 US tells us that, once again, ticket sales and entry fees are not at all necessary to meet the prize money payouts.
So, again – sponsor money pays the prize!
Okay, so far we have two organizations paying equally to Men and Women, both of which appear to use sponsor money as the sole revenue generator for competitor payouts.
What about Chess? Well, A very short amount of research was required to discover that The World Chess Championship prize money (in both men’s and women’s) is paid for by an exclusive sponsor. Yes, one sponsor actually sponsors the entire World Championship! FIDE (Federation Internationale Des Echecs) determines the minimum acceptable amount of the sponsorship (Don’t ask me how they come about this number) and then goes on the hunt for someone / thing to meet that sponsorship. This is the reason why, some years, there just isn’t a championship. In those cases, no one felt it was worthwhile to sponsor it. Hmm, Go Figure.
So, it looks like the take home here is: Competitors DO NOT contribute to their winnings in Tennis, Bowling or Chess, yet in our study of the BJJ Pro event, it would appear that prize money is based solely on competitor entrance fees. Why?
Listen, this article is about to get EXTREMELY long unless I cut to the chase: Other Major sports pay the competitors prize money based upon the amount of Sponsor money. Period! This is pretty much the RULE in Professional sports. So….why does the IBJJF BJJ Pro event not follow this rule?
Well…this installment is hitting close to 900 words so, although I didn’t want to, I am going to have to go with one more installment. We’ll call it the Epilogue, but suffice it to say, I think I have narrowed it down to the short end of it and I believe I have figured out the reason and, maybe – just maybe, the answer to fixing the issue (mind you, I don’t know if I have the recipe for the solution, but at least I might provide a start). Just give me a couple more days to type it up and fact check a few details.
OSS! Thank you for your attention and, I promise, I will wrap it up next time!