244 Days Until Elite Track and Field Tour Resumes

The IAAF Diamond League (DL) Finals wrapped up tonight in Brussels. This FINALS meet is where a large chunk of the prize money is won. The amounts are by place:

FINALS – prize money structure for each of the 32 events
1st $50,000
2nd $20,000
3rd $10,000
4th $6000
5th $5000
6th $4000
7th $3000
8th $2000

Much of this is good for Elite Track and Field (ET&F). As is argued within the ETF-Forward white papers ( link  ), paying for actual Tour results is an important thing for the sport as a whole. It is better than a bunch of murky appearance fees that are hidden from a specific performance that meet customers witness. The money in the FINALS is decent. Compared to proposals shown on this site, the first place money is fairly comparable. However, the proposed ET&F Major events would expect to payout 3.75X more per event ($375K vs. $100K in Diamond League), with less top-weighting. The idea (admittedly arguable) is to reward the lower-placed finalists more, as a prize for qualifying for the Finals. The 25:1 ratio between 1st and 8th place seems to discount the considerable efforts of the last finalist, over the DL season.  The ETF-Forward idea is to reduce this disparity significantly: say to $52.5K:$15K (3.5:1 for 1st:8th).

Of course, the white papers propose a lot of things that are different. There would be many more meets within a single Tour season. Each of the meets would feature all disciplines, and larger fields. Each ET&F Tour stop would feature 3X to 4X more money per discipline. Probably the biggest difference is that on September 1 of any given season, ET&F fans would NOT have to wait 244 days until the main Tour begins anew! While acknowledging that IAAF events (indoor) will go on before the DL starts again in Doha in 2018, I argue that it is not really the same product.

No other successful sport operates this way. The Pro Tennis archetype discussed in the white papers runs its Tour into the late fall. Tennis fans have a very short break before the season opens with a sunny splash in the Southern Hemisphere. Following a set of smaller tournaments down under, a  major event (Australian Open, with about $34M in prize money) begins in January. ET&F needs to create a plan for offering much more product volume to its fans. It is obvious that the interest is there, given London 2017’s example.




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