Each new season in the BMX world brings new changes. Whether it be within the rulebook, the national schedule, or in this case pro payouts, there is always a melting pot of reactions. A quick rewind over the history of the sport, professional race purses have always been a topic bringing out only the strongest of opinions.
A quick rewind over the history of the sport, professional race purses have always been a topic bringing out only the strongest of opinions. Never has there been a common ground met that left everyone pleased. One of the most recent explosions came in 2013 during the Music City Nationals in Nashville, TN. Nearly every pro in attendance chose to not get in the gate and walked off the track in protest of an unannounced decrease in the Elite Men and Women’s payout.
I was at that event and the entire situation could have been avoided had their been more trust put in the USA BMX officials. That did not happen and the protesters carried on. In the end, there were no true winners. Fast forward to current day and we have seen multiple changes in regards to the way pro riders are awarded prize money. Big payouts for USA BMX SX series events, Elite Women taking a bigger share of the pie, and most everyone being pleased with the current setup.
Earlier tonight we came across what could be quite a shock to many at first glance. A quite substantial decrease in prize money across the board. Before we jump into the specific drops, for the past two seasons the Elites have had 60K on the line for just the USA BMX North American SX series. The winner of Elite Men cashed in a $7,000 check and Elite Women victors walked away with $3,500. The new payout of these high-level events has now cut the total purse by 33% to $40,000 between both days for the men and women.
2017 Pro Purse Breakdown
As you can see, the normal USA BMX Pro series purses have also been cut. Now the elite riders will only be able to cash in a $1,000 check for a win in both the men and women’s classes. Looking back at the 2016 Winter Nationals, Joris Daudet took home $3,500 each day for the win. With the new scale, that cuts it down to just $2,000 for two days of wins. Numbers like that put a big strain on trying to make a living as an Elite Pro. Alist Post would have lost $750 off of her winning check with the new scale. OUCH!
The year-end payouts will also see a hit, at least for the men. The 2016 #1 Pro took home $15,000 for claiming one of the most prestigious titles in BMX. The new structure cuts those winnings down to just $10,000. The women will not be affected as their title win money will go unchanged.
So what does all of this mean? Looks can be deceiving and at first glance, many are ready to light their torches and head for the USA BMX HQ. NOT SO FAST! We caught wind of an email sent out from the powers at USA BMX detailing the changes.
First, all of the USA BMX Pro Series events, including the NASX series, are done in conjunction with the UCI. With that, both entities must work together and USA BMX still must abide by rules that UCI puts in place for these events. Trust me, there is a reason there are certified UCI officials at every USA BMX Pro race.
So what does that have to do with how much cashola is dished out to our pro riders? Simply put the UCI came down and required USA BMX to put both the Elite Men and Women on the same scale when it comes to their winnings. For the UCI, equal pay was a must for USA BMX to continue running these events under the UCI sanction. Of course, you are probably thinking, “why doesn’t USA BMX just increase the pay for the Elite Women?”
We would all love more money and frankly, every professional athlete feels they are never compensated enough. This is not just an issue in BMX, it happens with Football, Baseball, and every other professional sport out there. If you go back and look at the rider count based payout that USA BMX previously had, the more riders signed up, the more money awarded. It worked great. I do not see how anyone can believe that a pro event with 15 Elite Women should get the same pay as Elite Men when they have more than 60 riders. USA BMX would be cutting their own throats in a financial sense.
With the new requirements from UCI, everyone is now on a true level playing field. Forget rider count, forget male vs. female, sign up and race and walk away with the same pay. Looking at it, there is no true winner here. Everyone makes less money and it sucks. But for those of you thinking USA BMX is being a bunch of greedy bastards, it is not the case. USA BMX is a business with expenses into the millions, there is only so much to go around and without major non-endemic sponsors stepping up to offer five or six figure checks to athletes, USA BMX and their partners are the ones left with the bill.
The other piece that unfortunately cuts money out of the “prize pool” is the troubles lying within USA Cycling. The rumor mill is that some funding has gone away and USA BMX has now stepped up to fill in that void. What exactly does that mean? The mothership announced that they will be funding the USA Cycling BMX Elite World Championship team for the next four years. That racks up to around $120,000 a year for a total bill of nearly half a million dollars. Any other takers on this one?
When you lay everything out on the table, nobody here wins. Prize money is damaged, USA BMX looks bad although it is hard to fault them for finding a financially intelligent way to work with the UCI, and nobody leaves happy. We have seen a ton of hate thrown towards the sanction with this recent revelation so it was important some true facts be laid out there.
Everyone will have their own opinion and you can point a finger in many different directions. Think first before you point, for the true villains may lie elsewhere. This does allow us a perfect time to all come together and find alternative ways to bring more money to the table. If you are a pro, go out and market yourself and bring in supporting non-endemic sponsors. Don’t leave it to just the sanction to support your career. Really, USA BMX is part of a very limited group where they are offering the prize money rather than an outside source. USA BMX, this is a perfect opportunity for you to support the riders who support you even more and work on bringing in outside dollars to increase the prize money.
None of these roads are easy, but they can be navigated. It is time to come together and create solutions, not Molotov cocktails and grenades for war…
A and Vet Pro Payout Breakdown
Be sure to continue checking ridebmx.com/race for more on the evolving topic…