Thursday, February 21, 2013

ATP Reverses Decision, Indian Wells Prize Money Increase Approved


--
It's been a very touch and go process, but finally the ATP's Board of Directors and Indian Wells have reached common ground with regard to Indian Wells' proposed (and originally vetoed) prize money increase for the upcoming BNP Paribas Open. You can read a very informative dialog on the subject over at tennis.com, where Steve Tignor and Kamakshi Tandon discussed possible implications of the decision, which was pending at the time.

Tandon made some great points in the piece, and highlighted the fact that there's a lot more to the issue than just boosting prize money. For instance, is it cool to have a rogue tournament that apparently is hell-bent on proving its superiority to all other tournaments, telling the ATP what to do?

In this case, as we learned today upon hearing that the ATP had finally signed off on the increase, apparently it is.

This whole perplexing, convoluted affair, while taxing at times, should ultimately prove to be a very positive development for tennis for two reasons:

1. The players, particularly those players who have historically been underserved by tennis's top-heavy pay scale, are going to get a larger percentage of prize money. You can forget about all the other politics involved and just remember that. A lot of players are going to get a lot more prize money, and that can only be good for tennis. Let's face it, tennis is a sport where the No. 100 player in the world often finds him or herself without enough funds to hire a coach and a physio. That's terrible, especially when you consider that the minimum salary of a Major League Baseball player is 490K. And Major League Baseball is just one of many professional baseball leagues.

To think that tennis can not provide enough income for players around or just outside the top 100 is just ludicrous. This isn't a group of overpaid spoiled babies we are talking about. This is a highly dedicated, highly professional group of athletes who quite frankly aren't getting a fair share of the tennis revenue stream.

2. The clumsiness of the original veto, which was met with consternation from so many current and former players, has served as a platform for many to get engaged in the debate. We were able, through the good, hard work of various tennis scribes, to learn a lot about the process and politics involved with a decision like this. That's good in and of itself, but perhaps the best part of all this was that all the heavy artillery that the ATP took for being so close to depriving its players an additional 860,000 in prize money actually forced them to reconsider, to rethink and to re-vote.

It also forced the ATP to come up with a proactive solution for dealing with similar situations in the future (tennis should be so lucky).

Here's what ATP chief Brad Drewett had to say about that: “The unique set of circumstances generated by the Indian Wells case has prompted us to seek to provide a permanent rule that will account for similar cases arising at ATP World Tour events in the future. For the long term benefit of both our players and tournaments, it’s important to establish a rule that can provide suitable parameters for similar requests to be processed in years ahead. We are always looking for ways to increase prize money for our players and continue to review a number of options in this area,” said Drewett.

So, there you have it. Seems like a win-win for everybody, at least for now.