I have never understood the need to pay already-rich professional tennis players hundreds of thousands of dollars (indeed, over 1 million) to just show up at a tournament. Yes, they have to play, but they don’t have to put in an effort. They could lose in the first round and still pocket enough money to feed an entire country’s school children breakfast in the morning.
Okay, I do understand why tournaments do this. I just don’t agree with it. To entice a big name player to a tournament entices patrons such as sponsors and the fans – sponsors to put up even more money, fans to buy tickets, revenue from TV to go up. The more money the tournament can make, the more it can disperse to its ‘shareholders’. It seems like a classic capitalist business model – in the end, everybody wins.
Maybe it’s the human in me that thinks that this business model stinks. The already-rich top pro tennis players have no need for any more money – really. Paying them an exorbitant appearance fee just for showing up screams greed and elitism to me. They could easily pass for a Canadian Senator. When I hear of players whining about how they’re not paid enough through prize money, I just cringe. I’d just like to remind them that if we the fans didn’t show up, there would be no you.
I have always liked pro tennis over other professional sports because I liked the payment schedule – you win, you get paid; you don’t win, you don’t get paid. You are forced to work for your paycheque instead of just showing up and doing nothing and getting paid for it (a classic union scheme, but that’s another rant). The whole hockey lockout fiasco this past year was a classic example of greedy millionaire players, greedy billionaire owners and fans caught in the middle. Going to an NHL game will soon be for the millionaire fans. It’s perfect though isn’t it: millionaires watching millionaires making billionaires.
Maybe there is a place for appearance fees. I just think it’s messed up at the moment. If a tournament feels the need to pay a highly-ranked player to show up to boost ticket sales or increase their revenue in other ways, I believe the fee should be paid out as the player advances into the tournament. For example, if the players is promised a $1 million fee, it should be paid out if he/she wins the title – not if they get bounced in the first round. There is no rule for appearance fees that I know of, so the tournament is basically making their own rules in regards to paying players.
Currently, appearance fees just seem a bit too shady to me, as if they are being paid under the table. I think if appearance fees were more out in the open and fair, I’d have a lot less misgivings about them. In these troubled financial times, especially for individuals who are struggling to make ends meet, I find it very distasteful for already-rich millionaires to pocket millions of dollars for not doing anything.
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