In some major sports such as soccer, Formula One or even road cycling, athletes' salaries are common knowledge and published annually. In mountain biking, this definitely isn't the case. How much a rider gets paid in downhill, enduro, slopestyle or xc is often a closely guarded secret that gets even more obscured as earnings are mixed in with bonuses, prize money and sponsorship fees. It's often not as simple as saying rider x will earn y dollars in a given year as their pay is often heavily tied to their performance.
To try and get a better picture of how much riders are earning, we included remuneration as a section of our State of the Sport survey.
One thing to note is that rider pay does not equal the total money a brand has spent on that rider. Regardless of the rider's remuneration, the total investment from a brand to go racing with them on an international stage is significant; it's easy to spend $50K+ per rider on travel, accommodation, food, fees, mechanical support, etc. for a season. Especially with EWS where the travel is extensive. There are instances where racers take a lower dollar figure to get on a factory team versus a higher wage and managing all their own independent deals (and sleeping in vans).
The most interesting results from the remuneration section of the survey are below. We offered any rider that had finished in the top 40 of their discipline in the past two seasons the opportunity to take part in the survey, for more information on the riders surveyed, click here. Note, junior riders have been removed from all the below calculations and some riders declined to answer this section.
Additional reporting: Henry QuinneyThe Big Picture
The largest cohort of riders (27.3%) surveyed earns between 0-5,000 USD from mountain biking and we also know from a separate question on the survey that around 21% of riders don't get paid at all. Bear in mind we have removed juniors from this part of the survey and we also only surveyed the top 40 ranked riders from the past two years in each discipline. This means that it's almost guaranteed that some of the riders you see on a broadcast of an event aren't earning a penny for being there. If we switch from the mode to the median, the average is marginally higher with the average rider getting paid $10,000-20,000 USD per year.
One other conclusion we can draw from this data is that riders either get paid relatively well or not that well at all. So, while 51.65% of riders earn less than $20,000 USD, nearly a third of pro riders get paid more than $40,000 USD per year and nearly a quarter earn more than $50,000 USD.
Some riders are able to transcend the sport of mountain biking and their relative celebrity means they can begin to earn a significant wage through non-endemic sponsorships. We know that a handful of the biggest riders in the sport are pulling in more than $500,000 USD but as several riders declined to answer this question, only one person confirmed making more than that amount. For the sake of anonymity, we have removed that person from the remaining graphs (although we have included them in the calculated averages) and won't be disclosing any more details about them.
Of all the riders surveyed, just under half (49%) were able to earn their full living from mountain biking without having to supplement it with another income source, while 21% told us they earn no money from the sport at all. As for the remaining riders, 16.2% said it was more than half of their total income while 13.6% said it was less than half. This means in total, 51% of riders have to have a second income stream.
Pay By Discipline
So what happens when we break down the numbers by discipline? Well, a number of things stick out, firstly, it seems that the patterns of pay are pretty consistent between disciplines. We can see that the majority of riders earn either very little or quite a lot with a dip between the two in the middle. The two disciplines that don't follow this pattern are slopestyle and cross country, where it seems like there's a fairly consistent pay scale across the sport.
Based off the numbers it appears that slopestyle riders get compensated the best, but it's worth noting that this comes from a very small sample size of only 18 riders.
Cross Country: 30,000-40,000 USD
Downhill: 5,000-10,000 USD
Enduro: 10,000 - 20,000 USD
Slopestyle and freeride: 40,000 - 50,000 USD
Cross Country: 50,000 - 100,000 USD
Downhill: 0-5,000 USD
Enduro: 0-5,000 USD
Slopestyle and freeride: 100,000 - 250,000 USD
The other striking fact is how many professional top-40 enduro and downhill racers are paid less than $5,000 per year
. For the enduro riders, it's almost a quarter and for downhill, it's nearly half. We have another article coming that will explore exactly why downhill riders seem to be paid less than other disciplines despite being an incredibly popular form of racing among fans, and a clear proving ground for the sport's halo products.
The discipline with the fewest riders not being paid is cross country. While mountain biking doesn't have the same minimum wage requirements of road cycling, it does appear that the culture of riders being paid for their racing has carried over to XC. Whether it's due to being an olympic sport, its competition with road cycling for top athletes, or something else isn't clear.
The Gender Pay Gap
There does appear to be a significant gender pay gap in mountain biking. For a start, a lot more top 40 women are earning less than $5,000 USD for their riding - 32.4% for women vs 23.4% for men.
There also seems to be a very clear ceiling for women's pay that's lower than the men's. For the most part, female pro mountain bikers' pay tops out at about $50,000 - $100,000 while some of the top paid men are paid significantly more than that.
Men: 20,000 - 30,000 USD
Women: 10,000 - 20,000 USD
Men: 0-5,000 USD
Women: 0-5,000 USD
The reasons why women haven't been able to break into the higher brackets of pay with as much regularity as men are varied and complex, but issues surrounding media coverage, exposure, purchase influence, and prevailing attitudes within the sport all play a part. We'll be exploring this further in other articles and tracking it throughout the years as the survey continues as an annual event.
What makes up a pro mountain biker's pay packet?
Mountain bikers' contracts generally don't just include one round figure that they cash in at the bank every month. Most pro riders will have some sort of base wage but they are incentivized to increase their pay through bonuses that may include anything from results to social media posts to magazine front covers.
In fact, of the nearly 200 riders we surveyed, only 21.9% of them earned all their money through a wage alone. The largest group of riders (33.3%) earned 60-80% of their money through a wage but this was followed by 28.6% of riders who don't earn any money through a wage. This could put riders in a truly precarious position if an injury (or global pandemic) means they are unable to complete any of their bonuses.
What do sponsors value?
We asked riders what their sponsors value the most in an athlete and the majority of riders (50.5%) said that it was consistent results in their chosen discipline. A further 13% of riders said it was strong one-off results. If you ever wonder why athletes get so nervous at each event, this is a good illustration of why - nearly two-thirds of them will be trying to justify their wage over the next few minutes or hours and they generally get less than 10 chances a year to do so.
Other high-scoring qualities for riders include an active social media presence (23.2%), face-to-face interaction with the public (6.1%) and media coverage from events (3.5%).
Again please note, this is what riders believe their sponsors value. It may not reflect what their sponsors actually
value. Anecdotally, we hear that very few sports marketing people are willing to spend much on top 40 athletes if they don’t bring something else to the table—strong social media presence, sick style for the catalogue shoot, a good relationship with a distributor in a key market, etc. Maybe we'll have to do an anonymous sport marketing managers' survey as well next year.
Do pro mountain bikers think they are paid fairly?
So, we've established that the majority of mountain bikers aren't making a fortune, but do they think their pay is fair despite this? After all, for most of these riders, being paid to ride your bike is a dream job, and they may be willing to give up the higher salary a 9-to-5 grind might bring in exchange for the lifestyle of a pro rider. For a lot of riders, there's more to their profession than simply earning a pay packet. The thrill of competition, the ability to ride their bikes full time, the equipment, and the travel that come along with it all factors into their career choices. Mountain bikers are also aware they aren't packing out stadiums, but equally their job carries a huge amount of physical risk and sacrifice.
We asked riders to respond to the statement, "I am paid fairly for what I do" and the responses are a mixed bag. 29.1% of riders agree to some extent, 43.4% disagree to some extent and the remaining 27.6% of riders answered the question neutrally.
When we break this down further, it won't surprise anyone to learn that the responses seem to track riders' wages. The largest amount of disagreement came from riders who earned 5,000-10,000 USD, where 89.48% of riders didn't think they were being paid fairly.
The results on this topic are interesting, and it's a subject worth digging deeper on. How much brands should be paying athletes that may or may not be influencing purchase decisions will be a major discussion point, but the big takeaway for us is that racing remains incredibly privileged. Even when they “make it” on the World Cup stage, many of these racers are depending on family support to pay for their racing. Stay tuned for further thoughts on athlete pay in the near future.
What do you think? Are pro riders paid fairly? Do you really buy products because of a rider placing top 40? Is the sport losing out on talent because of its lack of opportunities?
Editor's Note We rely on athletes' trust to carry out this survey, any attempts to identify riders will be deleted from the comment section
*baseline personal view is that there shouldn’t be a gap
In the cycling industry, sponsoring a woman simply isn't the same return as sponsoring a man. The ratings are lower for Womens DH- significantly lower. I wish this was otherwise- I don't skip the womens broadcast, but thats what it is.
As far as what you get with sponsorship, 2020 is a great example of still getting something for paying athletes. For every Danny hart post, I saw twenty Emily batty posts. Which sponsor got their money’s worth. Pink bike’s survey would be better to split up the “what my sponsors care about” by gender. Gwin is fast and all, but I’m not buying Kenda any time soon. Being fast is not the be all end all.
Be there. When you wake up and scroll… be there. When you take a dump… be there. When you go to sleep and death scroll…. Be there.
For better or worse, I’m only one thumb flip away from Batty’s sponsors being seen by my eyeballs and in this Facebook day in age that means more than any race win if I were a sponsor.
Women on average choose lower paying professions. Within each profession, women tend to get paid less than their male peers because they leave the workforce more often (typically for child bearing) and have fewer years experience. They also work less hours per week (typically for childcare), put in less overtime, work in less dangerous areas, work after hours less, etc. This is changing as women have fewer children, and start bearing children at older ages. Even now women graduate college at much higher rates than men, and in another decade as these graduates build their careers, the simplified, top level analysis of the mythical wage gap will nearly disappear.
1. Your argument as hypothetical business owner actually supports the reason why there is a pay issue. In your hypothetical situation, perceived value drives offered salaries down, because as a business owner you'd expect less return on your cost if you're a bigoted arse.
2. I like how you say it doesn't exist, then neatly carve out a statistical fishbowl in which it seemingly doesn't, without evidence I might add.
Maybe that are elements that relate to you f*cked up culture and its perpetuating pseudo christian misogyny
Just to take one of your many total bullshit comments: Within each profession, women tend to get paid less than their male peers because they leave the workforce more often (typically for child bearing) and have fewer years experience. Bullshit! Paid parental leave e.g. Norway, no issue. Why do women have to look after the children? Me caveman! Me provider!
Take any other point and apply to a more development nation and they fall apart.
Its all about supply and demand.
Even in countries that have equal paternal/maternal leave laws, women tend to take more time off for child bearing than men. And thats ok! Theres more to life than sitting in a cubicle 45 hours a week making your boss rich. Women live longer, healthier, and tend to be happier than men precisely because they work fewer hours and fewer work-years.
The fact is, mountain biking is a male-dominated sport, and men tend to look for advice on what they should buy from other men. Men tend to prefer mens sports (women tend to prefer watching mens sports too). How much of this is cultural vs innate nature, and how much of this should be changed is debatable. But thats the reality- the demand for high paid womens athletes among sponsors is less because demand for viewing womens athletics is less.
Honestly, there probably are some pretty smart organizations out there taking advantage of some of the gender pay challenges. I would imagine most of them are approaching it from a "wow, there are lot's of women out there that are great candidates that aren't getting opportunities!" perspective rather than the "wow, we can really cut back on our salaries if we only hire women" approach you are alluding to.
And, you know...I wonder why the women's ratings are lower, right? "Hey, this year, we're going to cut our broadcast down to the top 2.5 riders. We'll show you the top 2, but if you're in 3rd we're only going to bother if you're sponsored by Red Bull." No representation. No interest. No future.
The bottom line is, the wage disparity can mostly be explained by hours worked per week. If we simplified things and measured everyones pay based on hours worked, as if we were all hourly employees, then the wage gap would nearly disappear. Its hard to argue that someone shouldn't be paid more when they work more hours per week.
Looks to me like you’re using silly economic theories to justify underpaying women. All your points above are odd and outdated.
Have you told your mom and all the women in your life about your theories on the gender pay gap? They might be a good sounding board, might even provide some real world insight.
Here’s my data and a bunch pre packaged rebuttals. www.epi.org/publication/what-is-the-gender-pay-gap-and-is-it-real/#epi-toc-18
I would also add that Overtime should not be a measure of one's commitment to their elected profession. Overtime is simply a tool for an organization that does not know how to set reasonable deadlines for the workforce that they have. A well-managed organization does not need overtime to deliver to its clients.
I would agree though, men seem to have a greater willingness to accept risk; maybe we're just dumber and have so sense of self preservation (we did start the mountain biking thing first).
You may be right about your projections though, their a lot of women rising through the high paying ranks due to the heavy promotion by parents in the 1990's and 2000's for girls to go to school. I think we've got another decade or so though before the wage gap really disappears and that'll come from more women being in leadership roles or simply as hiring managers.
I’m a guy so can’t say for sure but suggesting that women should have to compete against men in the same category to be paid equally seems like a great example of an attitude that would discourage them from joining the sport or perusing a racing career.
I agree it must be difficult for sponsors to justify paying men and women equally at the moment but rather than just trying to justify the gap surely the thing to do is to support women’s categories and promote their side of the sport more. Two equally exciting and well covered races a weekend wouldn’t be a bad thing.
It’s mad that this is the top comment on one of the most popular mountain biking sites. Think about how it’s portraying the sport.
men will always be faster, go bigger and go gnarlier. The fastest women's time in most events is usually not even as fast as the way junior boys times (true for cycling, track, swimming etc), and while you can say "women are going bigger in slopestyle all the time" (which is true) when you start with very small tricks you've got a long way to go to reach rampage and crankworx men's level. So sure, if you had all the money in the world you'd support both equally, just because it's fair. But since there are many dollars attached to it, you go with the bigger, faster, gnarlier...just like in pretty much every other sport.
We all as individuals, men and women, need to choose paths that bring the most benefit to ourselves and to those around us. A wage gap, which clearly exists, is not the problem we need to solve. The world is becoming more equal in opportunity over time. As everyone gets all up in arms over making slightly more or less than anyone else, people get wrapped up in the wrong things. Life is about quality, not quantity....
inb4 more money makes you happier. We don't need to be millionaires to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.
But saying that I agree with your statement about woman spending more a higher ratio of female riders I know do have decent kit compared to the same ratio in the males. But there’s a lot of ways these arguments can be swayed.
Here is the Bureau of Labor and Statistics own report, the most relaible source for data. You'll notice the tone difference between it and your left-leaning activist article- it doesn't try and push a political agenda. It just publishes the data: www.bls.gov/opub/reports/womens-databook/2019/home.htm
It finds that women more often work part time. Part time workers, no matter the gender, make less (they work fewer hours) AND they make less per hour. Regardless of gender.
It finds that for full time workers, men work 14% more hours per week (see table 22). That alone accounts for most of the perceived 20% pay gap.
I shouldn't have to talk to my wife, daughters, sister, or mother about the pay gap. Science is science, no matter who is saying it. The data is there. The economic theory is there. My gender doesn't matter.
Once again, your source is a biased political think tank pushing an agenda. I read it, and if you want I can PM you a line-by-line rebuttal of that article, but this comment is already too long.
It all goes back to the Hedonic Wage model- when biases are strong enough to show up in the data (the classic thing to study was discrimination against Jews in the 1920s America) you can model it. You can put a price on peoples preferences for discrimination. If I pass up a Jewish candidate at my company, and hire someone less competent simply because they are not jewish, that costs me in a dollar amount that can be measured. There is no such data today that can demonstrate a gender wage gap in any area of the US economy.
The fact is that women bare children and men don't. Our society is structured such that working moms take more time off for childcare than working fathers. I don't see anything wrong with this- the point of work is to enjoy life, we don't have life to work. This is why women live longer, healthier, more fulfilled lives than men.
All racers are essentially salesmen/women, and women racers sell less. Look at this comment section. Is there a single woman commenting here? No, because mountain biking is dominated by men, and men are more responsive to other men selling them products. This is true of all sports.
I have kids. Nowadays, in the USA, kids are equally supported and encouraged to do sports. 5-7 year old boys and girls participate in organized sports at the same rate. By High School, 5 times as many girls have stopped participating. Girls, on average, don't enjoy sports in the same way boys do. Its just what it is, and thats ok.
In disciplines like freeride women can surely be as good as men. It maybe just hasn’t happened yet because the sport is still growing.
Not bike related but Michele Mouton(rally driver) is a really good example of a women who was at the top of another male dominated sport. I’m sure that before she came along people said that women could never be as quick, basically just because it’s not happening at the moment doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Nothing to do with systemic barriers to entry to some industries or that the man in the relationship is unwilling to take time off to raise the child.
It also makes me wonder if there is anyone tracking the "work/life balance gap". If these overpaid men didnt work so much, and took more personal time... then we could close both the "gender pay gap" and the "work/life balance gap".
Your only valid point is that in partnerships, it may be true that men are less willing to take time off for child rearing (like picking kids up from school every day or staying home with a sick kid). Its also patronizing to assume women are all cowards, dominated by their husbands. Its so paternalistic to say women who choose happiness and home life over a cubicle must have something wrong with them. I don't pretend to try and tell men or women what to do. I will say that data shows working extra hours, and/or making more than $70k a year does not increase peoples happiness.
I mean you seem to have all the answers about how to spend other people’s money.
But please, your talking about rich folks mountain biking!
If you add into that divorce payments and the like ( cough - Melinda gates) you will see that the off pay balance transfers that take place are much higher and should be taken into account to determine a more accurate gender pay gap.
Of course these are only ball park figures and nothing should be taken as science. It is worth noting that the younger generation has more equal attitudes to this slightly provocative but observed suggestion above.
Expectations and cultural bias should be also calculated in all this analysis, Things are becoming more equal, but we need to wait a while until the 30+ generation die off and the current more equal younger generation takes over.
I can chase down evidence after evidence to prove that its very unlikely that Bigfoot exists, but the crypto-zoologists will always insist that Bigfoot is real because its hard to absolutely prove a negative. The same goes here. It is up to the person proposing the hypothesis to prove it, not the other way around. Someone, please, provide some data that women get paid less for the same work.
I am a big fan of data and statistics; however, they often require thoughtful analysis and input from individuals to best understand the causes and potential solutions.
Again, to boil it down, if we look at industries that compensate partially or entirely with commission based pay, anyone who leaves the workforce for a significant period of time, and then returns will have lower pay FROM THEIR COMMISSION meaning fewer sales. Sales is a long process, where you have to build up contacts in your CRM, work with them, check in with them, and funnel them down to potentials, to clients, and eventually close the sale. If you take time off, you have to build your sales funnel all over again. This is both true for sales and a great analogy to anything you're doing. If I'm a programmer (I actually am) and I start a new job or return to my old job after significant time off, I have to relearn whatever program I'm programming for. I have to learn the latest security updates/vulnerabilities. I have to read about the latest libraries or techniques. If I'm a delivery Person I have to relearn my routes.
I never said anything about a homogeneous vs mixed gender workplace. The data on that is pretty bad, so I don't think there is good evidence one way or the other.
But stop giving the market ultimate power. The market is not structured to reward certain things -- it relays information about the price and scarcity of goods. Child rearing and thousands of other activities (including your and my ability to ride our bikes, or how we cook, or play the piano, etc) fall outside of the market and thankfully so. Not every whit of our lives needs to be accurately priced by a market.
Also, what on earth does Friedrich Hayek have to do with this discussion and who are you to say he is a rubbish economist? Is it is work on price theory and information that you disagree with?
Also, what kind of sandwich? I'm going keto right now to lose some of the dad bod, but if its really good like a pastrami on rye I'll make an exception.
It very well may be true, however claims need citations.
His publications are also behind a pay wall thats typical for academic journals. So way back, at a time when a woman couldn't get her own credit card without her husbands signature, the labor market still valued competence over preference for discrimination. If you pass up a woman candidate for a man of lesser competency, just to suit your internal bias/preferences, you incur a cost. Your competitor who then hires that woman is at a competitive advantage. Most people are not willing to reduce their income to suit their biases. This is why, empirically, its very, very hard to find evidence for discrimination anywhere where there is a relatively free market .
There scientifically IS a wage gap (look at the numbers) because women aren't given the support and chance to make the same wage. The end.
The "wage gap" is not commonly understood to mean that we compare say a female part time teacher and a male partner in a law firm working 100/hrs a week. However, the "wage gap", as it is common presented in the media (and beyond), takes the lawyer/part time teacher comparison and grossly misleads the public by implying that its a like for like comparison. Only when you dig deeper do you discover that this is not true.
The "wage gap" is therefore rightly pilloried as a myth.
This would count as evidence on the bais against women
The really interesting thing is that both of these don't actually result in lower employment rates or measurably lower compensation rates. There certainly is more room to study this, and why these reported responses differ from actual, observed actions.
First off, it is my personal belief that we are all biased. We all have racist attitudes to some extent, and none of us are angels. That being said, not many of us are willing to spend money to practice our bias in the workforce; so few of us are that the bias does not show up in actual income/wage data.
Now of course you can find other independent reports that disagree with these, but even the census reports a roughly 18% difference between men's and women's salaries (in a comparison of year round full time work). And if you look at reports from other governments you'll see really similar numbers. Here's an excerpt from a review of the subject from.
"According to data of international comparison, using the percentage of female wages to male wages, the gender wage gap in China was estimated to be 82.7% in 2002 (Song et al. 2017), while the same indicator in 2015 stood at 81.1% in the USA, 82.3% in the UK, 81.3% in Germany, 88.0% in Sweden, 67.6% in Korea, and 72.2% in Japan (Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training 2016)."
I'm not an economist, so I'm not going to claim to be an expert on this, but I mean its pretty clear there isn't some big conspiracy out there women really do get paid less than men, and yes that is a problem.
I agree with you. Everyone has some measure of bias merely though observation and pattern recognition - which is normal, healthy, and impossible to get rid of (nor would it be desirable to do so). What we strive to do is discipline ourselves to take on both a "public" and "private" role. In your public role, you have to take on broader considerations besides mere rank bias.
This is an irrelevant statistic and is not what most people think of when they think of the "wage gap". Most people do not consider it "gender discrimination" when a full time grocery store clerk is paid less than a male partner in law firm working full time any more than they would if the law partner were female and the clerk was male.
People are concerned the most about gender discrimination, which is illegal, and that's what they think of when they hear "wage gap". So, it's grossly misleading when the raw earnings gap between all men and all women working full time is trotted out to imply rampant gender discrimination. That's not what these studies imply.
The best, most accessible understanding of the "wage gap" can be found here:
I invite all those curious about the topic to listen. You don't need to be an economist to understand this. And that's why this topic is so imminently frustrating. Peoples' basic grasp of statistics is so lacking that massive numbers of people can be easily misled and manipulated.
Male sales people sell more stuff than female sales people. Is it because they are "better" at sales, or is it because women have better work/life balance?
And don’t even get started on rigid gender roles. That assumes strict homogeneity by both gender and employer. We’re dealing with epistemological processes. Roles and expectations are socially embedded, and those informal institutions they are embedded in are far too nuanced to be able to assume homogeneity in preferences, behavior, etc. across an entire gender.
Do you really think that an employer would purposefully pay an equally qualified woman less than her male peers?
Several people have said I'm justifying a wage gap. Can you provide any evidence there is a wage gap?
What evidence do you have for a wage gap "in some cases"?
"Do you really think that an employer would purposefully pay an equally qualified woman less than her male peers?" Yes. Why? That is the foundational question here. Data out there would seem to indicate this is the case more often than one would expect. Now I do think it is worth mentioning that rarely do two people possess the exact same career progression. This complicates the value proposition of employees as how to equate or compare the value of experience. Time alone is not an indicator of experience. Personal drive, ambition, attitude, interest, and commitment all play into that. Let's be honest, too, we all stretch the truth a bit on resumes to make us look better that we really are (many shades of gray there).
But he’s not spewing hate so who really gives a shit if he prefers to ignore reality.
The point is that no one can produce evidence of a claim of sexism in compensation. To accuse anyone of discrimination- a horrendous act- is a pretty big deal. And to so casually reply, when asked for evidence of the accusation, with "I could provide evidence of a wage gap, but I would rather do something else" is pretty evil in my estimation.
"You can provide all the facts and examples you want" what facts or examples have been cited? Not one. Just editorials espousing a political idea, not a factual report.
The shit my mom has had to put up with in her career. The shit my 27 year old sister has to put up with. Her boss hired his unqualified son to be her manager meanwhile he gives his daughter an allowance to stay home. You’re gonna say her boss doesn’t have any biases when it comes to hiring or wages?
This country is not remotely close to equality and none of ham and cheeses “sources” are quality. Every single government study shows women are paid less. The vast majority of independent studies show women are paid less. But if a couple of dumbass men want to use this thread to reconfirm their own biases you can feel free. Luckily it’s in my right to call you a moron and I can explain myself as little or as much as I want. People have tried civil discourse so I’ll just tell them not to bother trying to polish a turd.
As am I who's had an opposing experience
Can you define "paid less"? If you work fewer hours, and receive less annual income as a result, would that count for your definition of "paid less"?
@SprSonik Your points may be valid. They are a good hypothesis. There just isn't any data out there to support it.
I've begged people in this article and the new one specifically about womens pay in the sport for ANY evidence of a pay gap when the proper things are controlled for. I have yet to see it. Just a few editorials trying to say you don't need to control for things like hours worked or years experience.
I'll repeat: Can anyone please send me some credible evidence of a wage gap? Please? I'll even settle for dubiously credible evidence that I can at least read and address.
There are relevant sociological conversations to be had that are perhaps tangentially related to gender, bias, etc. in context of this issue. But, gender pay discrimination is not one of them. The issue of gender pay discrimination been studied extensively and for a long time. The data is actually very "rich", as Claudia Goldin (Harvard feminist), describes it. The conclusion is that gender pay discrimination occurs, but is statistically rare. For that which does occur, it is illegal and can be prosecuted. If you are aware of gender pay discrimination cases, I would invite you to contact your local equal opportunity employment agency (every state has one). You don't even have to pay for a lawyer. The government investigates claims for "free."
If you want to talk about possible "bias" in this context, you should be focused more on why men and women make markedly different career/life choices at the group level. I will warn you, however, that when you do that, do not be surprised if you do not find the bias you're looking for or any definitive answer really. The question of "why" any one person or group of people do anything has vexed scholars and philosophers for millennia. Some questions are perhaps unanswerable - at least in terms of a universally understood consensus.
It strikes me that this entire endeavor is, at a certain point, stupid. It's like college dorm lounge bong session idiocy. At a certain point, we have to just live and accept the world for what it is. Life is actually short and should not be spent in pointless abstractions. Most normal people today understand that no individual man or woman should be stopped from their dreams but, obsessing over why women and men, as a group, navigate the world differently and assuming that if they do, some pathology must explain it, is just neurotic.
Without evidence of widespread pay discrimination against women, and with a ton of evidence that women and men make different career/life choices, I think transparency is a solution in search of a problem.
Perhaps the better "solution" here is less policy based and more cultural based - and something which I think many PB members could get on board with. Maybe what we should be doing is accepting the choices of women as, in fact, their free choices derived from their agency and LISTENING and LEARNING from women, not measuring them against men and then searching for an "enemy" when they don't exactly "match up." Maybe we need to be actually tolerant of actual difference and actual diversity. When I do that, the central message women are telling me is: "work is not the only important thing in life, maybe you should spend more time doing something you love, like mountain biking." Huh...
With Glassdoor and Payscale now frequently broadcasting compensation for various positions, I feel like we're virtually at the point of standard transparency. I can't imagine how much time is wasted by job applicants to go through a vetting process only to step away from a job prospect just because compensation was a question mark left to very end and found to be underwhelming or unattractive. "Maybe what we should be doing is accepting the choices of women as, in fact, their free choices derived from their agency and LISTENING and LEARNING from women, not measuring them against men and then searching for an "enemy" when they don't exactly "match up." I'm all for this so as there aren't complaints about pay disparity because of their choices. I guess it bothers me that we penalize women for having children, but as a country we need women to have children to sustain or even grow a population, but we also need to respect that many if not most women want to have a family AND a career. It may breed jealously amongst men, but perhaps motherhood should be incentivized (to an extent, say two kids) and compensated for the first 2-3 years of a childs life (i.e until they have weaned). Seems a rather unfair choice for women to have to choose between.
We have to get out of this mindset that work = good, family = bad. This is implied by the idea that trading work for family is "punishment". It's not. It's a tradeoff and one which more women than men appear to be willing to make but, I would argue, more men should be willing to make too (within reason, of course - someone has to work). Work is not "good". It's not "bad" either. It is, however, necessary. That is the more healthy way to look at work.
I think this is the byproduct of equality activism. In order to sell an equality movement, you do actually have to "sell" the thing you're advocating to be equal to. So, in this context, what happened was that effectively, "work" got romanticized into this trope of like say a bunch of dudes sitting around in fancy offices drinking scotch and hitting on the secretary. But, if you think about it, this was never true for the vast majority. Work, for most of human history, was back breaking labor (working in coal mines, for example) and men doing those jobs were quietly miserable and missing their families.
At the same time, there's always going to be someone willing to do that miserable thing and for that, they should be paid more. And we need those people. So, for example, if a female lawyer wants to charge $1K per hour for her services, she can't say "sorry, can't take your 4:00am call, I'm taking care of my kid". This is not b/c we're "punishing" her, it's because there's someone else (typically a man) willing to take the 4:00am call and get paid $1K/hr for his troubles. And that person will have the benefit of a "better" career BUT at the expense of having to work at 4:00am. That's the harsh truth of the "top"...the worse your job is, the more you get paid. Most people have it backwards in their minds.
(for family security) while sacrificing family time to do so.
A separate, but related topic of discussion, is the exhaustion factor difference between blue collar and white collar work. Not all blue collar work is explicitly physically exhausting, but many roles in the blue collar world can be really hard on the individual shortening overall life expectancy (not that sitting in a chair 8hrs a day 5days a week is a better, that's actually worse). In many respects, the skilled trades have the best arrangement, and there should be more encouragement to pursue skilled union trades.
I think there is an element of unfairness though in that a woman is forced to make some kind of a tradeoff to bear children, whereas men, which cannot bear children, have no tradeoff to contend with unless you consider having less disposable income available due to sharing with a spouse a tradeoff. Bottom-line there should be a threshold of time that doesn't count against a woman if she chooses to have children and then later return to the workforce. Presently it would seem 3-6months is that threshold, which is comically short.
And again, it's not that having children "counts against" women. This would imply some sort of intentional punishment. Leaving the work force, no matter who you are or why, will, on avg., result in less pay relative to those who do not leave (including women). If I take a 6 month sabbatical to try my hand at being a privateer mtb racer, while the rest of my colleagues stay behind and work for those 6 months, progressing their careers/pay/sales/what have you, this will, over time, result in pay differentials, skills gaps, etc. between me and my colleages. This is also imminently fair.
What of, for example, women who choose to sacrifice having children to advance their careers? So, they make a, very difficult, sacrifice to dedicate their child bearing years to a career, and we're going to strip away the benefit of that sacrifice from her? Is that fair? I'm actually friends with a female small business owner in the professional sector who did just that who privately told me recently that she felt "burned" by several young female hires lately who, after she went through the trouble of mentoring/training them, promptly left the workforce to have children. She recently hired a male employee.
Finally, the ability to have children - while painful, dangerous, and difficult on high end careers - can also be seen as an incredible gift given to women, which is "denied" to men. Often lost in modern conservations about pregnancy - which focus mostly on the downsides - is the positives; which women frequently report as deep and life changing. What's never talked about, b/c it is narrative busting, is how often the "wage gap" is due to how much pregnancy changes a woman's perspectives about careers. In other words, it is frequent, to the point of being routine, that women, once they have kids, just don't want to come back to cubicle land. Can we blame them? What you may not realize is that pregnancy benefits - whether they're 3, 6, or 9 months - often serve as a dis-incentive for women. In other words, they take that 9 months developing a deep bond with their children and family and suddenly, the cubicle looks pretty shitty in comparison to family life. So they just...don't come back.
@SuperHighBeam Your mum satisfied me already.
But seriously, work is good, family life is good. You just need to strike that balance. Birthing children means you balance it differently, and I don't think thats bad.
This, "What you may not realize is that pregnancy benefits - whether they're 3, 6, or 9 months - often serve as a dis-incentive for women. In other words, they take that 9 months developing a deep bond with their children and family and suddenly, the cubicle looks pretty shitty in comparison to family life. So they just...don't come back.", is a very good insight.
It all goes back to that saying, "there's more to life than work and earning money." Women figure that out much sooner than men because men are not faced with life changing events, such as pregnancy. Instead a man's perspective changes more gradually over time usually.
Unironically, access to education has been restricted for literally a thousand years. In medieval times only the richest people could read. The same thing happens today where the best degrees are prohibitively expensive to obtain, that's based on family income and intelligence less so. It's bs and we need to move past it.
“We have another article coming that will explore exactly why downhill riders seem to be paid less than other disciplines despite being an incredibly popular form of racing among fans, and a clear proving ground for the sport's halo products.”
Now are they paid a number you'd expect based upon their ridiculously high-level of skill, effort and time they've put into their craft? Now that's a whole different story.
MTBers are competitive between early 20ish to 30ish?
Yupstate is bang on though. To make it black and white, "fair" is what the market will determine is your worth and if the entire job market says your worth the same amount, then you are being paid fairly.
Because they don't believe you'll have the balls to actually leave, amongst other reasons - Not least of which is that employees seldom share salary information with each other. We don't like to speak publicly about what we get paid.
And this only hurts the workers, ultimately. I wonder how many of these pros know what other sponsors are actually paying riders in their discipline? Or even their own team mates?
Now something like medical or beauty product testing on animals?? That's product testing that really isn't fair and they don't get a choice. :-(
The value added to a bike brand itself is the question, does anyone buy a slope style bike in actual numbers? No. Does Rogatkin doing a million rotations take skill? Hell yes.
Would I sell more bikes on a shop floor now that Miranda Miller is on Kona? No.
They are performers and that frankly isn’t a job that is paid by the manufacturer solely in really any other performance. Be like Fender paying Bruce Springsteen’s wage.
But the dollar value of that entertainment is proportionate to how many people you're entertaining. And mountain biking is pretty niche in the grand scheme of things.
That’s a really bad comparison. These racers are all extremely priviliged people, who manage to earn money with their hobby. These people also had numerous other potential career paths, but they chose the uncertain life of being an athlete in a fringe sport. The children in Bangladesh basically have the option to work in a sweat shop, steal or work in the sex industry. Comparing the two shows a total lack of perspective.
Living in NZ now, rugby is huge but even still the biggest players get paid about the league minimum for NHL. Look at their jerseys, plastered in sponsors, still nothing like the big shows we have.
So perhaps the issue we have in this article is that very few athletes in the world make insane cash and $50k a year to play a sport and travel the world is a fair salary.
So the company is not going to pay those riders what the they are actually worth to them, because they don't have to. Because there are so many people willing to do this job underpaid, they just have to pay them that.
Supply and demand of mtb rider/jobs is very skewed, so the companies can basically decide the prices if they want to.
Mid to late 30s seems to be the golden years. Never too late to become a pro biker. Seems like you need to establish yourself in life first. Looking at these wages, I’d be lucky to ever turn a profit mountain biking. It would all be reinvested into gear and travel it seems
Professional sports have a tendency toward winner take all compensation. Organizations like the NFL explicitly structure their contracts to make sure the worst teams get a cut of the profits and better opportunities to hire (draft) players, to preserve competition. Even then, dominant teams pop up.
The problem with pursuing a career in athletics is there isn’t ever an unfulfilled demand for the best athlete. When the sport grows, the number of people trying to take the spot grows faster than the number of opportunities to be the best. It becomes a prisoners dilemma, to stay in that elite few you must sacrifice more than everyone else, take greater risks, etc.
When we think about mountain bike racers or clothing workers in Bangladesh "selling" their labor to employers, they have the ability to raise prices in the labor market by organizing and refusing to work at lower wages. So I'd say workers feelings about pay do matter in the marketplace, and I'd say professional athletes and textile workers are both great candidates for unionizing.
I understand that money can only be channel to athletes, if there is money, but some athletes are worth their value through competition, and how they expose the products
Being more risky than sitting in the desk, and that it will be for a limit time period (let's say between 20 to 35), I would say athletes salaries should be equivalent to desk salaries.
A Pro Athlete, with results,should have a salary equivalent to Marketing Manager, or even higher, if they bring VALUE to the company.
Unless your family can support your desires, it's a risk that must be though out.
Not all reach the high level
Injuries can bring life changes
I can't imagine the sacrifices some make to do what they do.
What I'm trying to say,is that athletes should earn money to sustain a certain level of living, through their lifes.
The amount of young men who play American football from the age of 6 to 24 is in the millions. High school’s sell season tickets in some towns. Lots of guys have blown a knee in their final year of high school to never play again. It’s a risk of the sport. Marketing manager is an open field, you need to lure marketing managers in general. If the job is between say Microsoft or Trek, they’re going to have to pay similar to attract similar talent.
Being a pro mountain biker is exactly the opposite. Tiny niche, very specific. Short career length. Unless you play it like a college athlete. Look at Bex Baraona, she has a mechanical engineering degree. Now a promising career as an athlete, when that time is up. An engineering job for a brand, possibly one of her current sponsors is possible.
Pro sport is harsh. I knew an NFL kicker and his life story was utterly insane. No guarantee contracts, so if you miss a big kick on a Sunday, you could be packing your suitcase on Monday without even a pat on the back. He lived on less than $50k a year in utter fear he would one day have no job. Which happened, thankfully he banked as much coin as he could. But now just has a normal office job, chats shit at the water cooler.
The concerning part of this, was today’s release about injury cover. That is what I find gross. The amount of fundraisers and give a little campaigns or raffles on pinkbike to fund pro-athlete recovery/surgery is utterly pathetic. Those injuries are direct results of their job. If I get injured at work, I am covered by several programs - some government and some private.
Watching a brand raffle off product to raise $10k for an athlete is gross and pathetic. Those brands should be shamed. If one of their employees got injured they would have to cover it. But athletes are contractors for the most part, and that is sketchy.
Phil Gaimon, has a funny anecdote about when he raced road on the Blissel team. The only time he was an employee. He had all the same benefits as a regular employee and got a regular paycheck. Far as I know, that is unique in the industry.
To be clear here, I'm not trying to carry water for the Walmarts or the Amazons of the world. I'm thinking of companies with fewer than 500 employees. I'm speaking about the admin assistants that set appointments and sit in on Zoom meetings all day (on mute) while watching Netflix and still take home 45k/yr. with paid healthcare. We tend to leave those people alone. Why? I guess I just find it curious. No one is chiming in and saying 'Half a million a year to ride a bike?! That's too much..' [Not my take, but just as an example].
Speaking to the original topic, it's hard for me to say how much a pro is worth to a brand. Lots of factors at work, but one thing for sure is that sponsorship =/= charity. It's an investment for a brand and they are looking for ROI (and that may manifest in many forms). It does warm my heart though that generally speaking, the MTB community recognizes the effort and risks taken at the highest levels of our sport, and wishes for the pros to be compensated well for such efforts. Here's wishing all the pros a healthy and fast season!
Similarly, if a company is paying someone $45k to set appointments and sit in on Zoom meetings on mute, apparently the company needs someone to set appointments and sit in on Zoom meetings and $45k is the market rate for such a position. I'm not stressing it too much. For instance, most large companies have whole multi-million dollar departments that lose money and eventually get scrapped, so I think they can risk "overpaying" an admin by 15%.
If we only accepted, say 50k$+ contracts, then that would set the return on investment higher as well, cutting opportunities for some 2nd and 3rd level riders to live an interesting experience. We can’t expect sponsors to pay big money for some kid on the WC circuit with a 76th place. The return is just not there and no one gives money away in the business world.
Here too, That would be interesting to see.
Depending on the nature of the upcoming promised ’data dump’ at the end of the week, it may be possible to crunch those numbers and come to (probably dubious in my case) conclusions!
(Answer: None they are all in the garage with blown shocks..)
Vaguely remember him claiming his team were taking a million years ago when he was winning. Reckon Intense are paying that for a podium-hopeful?
Some see Gwin as greedy, but he probably single handedly raised DH racers pay across the board. Not only did he put eyes on the new Redbull broadcast more than any other racer, it gave other racers the courage/ammunition to negotiate higher compensation. I think this will be Gwins lasting legacy- helping racers start getting good pay for the risk they take and the skill they bring to the table.
Gotta love the myopic viewpoint. That’s like saying “I don’t see any Orange bikes in California.” Speaking of which, I bet Orange County sells more bikes alone than the entire UK. Intense bikes are everywhere on the West Coast, and are a great company.
Fair play to him. Hopefully as he mentors more riders, he teaches them how to sell themselves, structure business deals, and elevate their own value, so we don't see the frankly embarrassing numbers in these salary surveys for much longer.
Source: was a sales manager for several brands in CA for years. what CA does in regards to bikes, the entire world does eventually.
He's essentially finished as a podium threat based on the last couple years but can still get some top 10's. Pretty awkward career considering all his religious babble at the beginning, contract controversies with Trek and YT, and the bike problems with specialized.
Honestly though having lived in both places Brits are a bit out of touch on how vast the difference is between the US mtb scene and their own. Sure, Chicksands or whatever might attract a bit of a “crowd”, but there are literally hundreds of trailheads across CA, AZ, OR, WA etc. packed to the brim, bristling with incredible riders and bikes. You drive anywhere CO and west, it’s not uncommon every time you are driving to spot at least a couple vehicles with an MTB or geared up for one. I can count the times on one hand you’d see that driving in the UK.
Not that Gwinn gives a shit about some punter like me on a bike forum...
For females it is probably Jolanda Neff.
I'm not a Gwin hater, but he was very religious in some of his first big interviews years ago. I hope he does win world's but seems very unlikely.
I'm willing to look over these Red Bull focused interviews since the coverage is free and quite good of course!
The Sports Marketing in this sport is just so immature... what these athletes need are sports agents who are pros at getting brands to see why their athlete deserves "this much" money. A huge part of being sponsored (and even getting sponsored in the first place) is learning how to market yourself and show how and why you're worth money to a brand. As a pro, you should be looking at everything you're doing and equating it value to your brand/brands and how it'll influence your "worth". If you're not... you're not really a "Professional Athlete", you're an armature.
It would be interesting to not how many of these athletes have some idea or training in how to market themselves and/or use an agent. I'd bet that only those top few people really earning the big bucks are using agents/agencies.
t's only the riders who have disclosure censorship.
Im with Lord Tom, applause to Pinkbike for doing this.
In my industry we do salary survey's every couple of years for this specific reason. Of course we already have a good general idea of what the salary ranges are across the industry, but what the survey allows us to do is get specific with employees.
Before the survey, the only reasons you had when turning down requests for raises was something along the lines of "budgets and worth", which after a couple years just sounds like bullshit and helps to reduce overall moral and productivity, especially when they have these rumour based salary expectations floating around in their heads. But after the survey we're able to get specific, say and show them "Well here's the industry average for your position and you make this much...based on your performance and goals blah blah blah, we're going to keep you at your current salary". It's much more credible information... typically the employee has a much better understanding of why they make what they do and have less resentment towards us for not giving them a raise. They often feel better knowing that, no, we aren't vastly underpaying you for the same work as Karen over at Acme Unlimited.
Now I should say... there is a lot more nuance and gray area involved from individual person to person and this tactic is more generally meant for those employees asking for raises who don't deserve them and/or believe everyone else makes more money than them and they should get a raise as a result. We do reward and provide raises to employees who deserve them or, for whatever reason, their salary has slipped to the lower end of the average for their position (and this is in addition to our annual company wide inflation based pay bumps).
Either way, more information gives us more power, more options and we can speak more credibly to our employees... while still denying wage/salary increases. Because generally, when employees don't have that information, it seems that typically they always believe they're at the lower end and everyone else is making more than them and so are constantly asking for more. I'm sure it's a similar situation here as well.
It seems there would be a case for a large manufacturer to cut a bunch of their bullshit marketing costs then maybe charge an extra $50 a bike and then use that budget to create a super-team of top riders across disciplines (including YouTuber's) by simply paying them a much higher than average salary + performance, placement and media bonuses.
Until you reach the top echelons of motorsport, "professional" drivers are paying for their seat, or for their own team.
A huge problem problem is mainstream TV coverage, which is why the EWS deal with Discovery is such a big deal and a step in the right direction for pro MTB athletes to be more well known. For sponsors to justify spending money on athletes those athletes need to be cared about by the consumers (Another reason why athletes need to care about social media). Redbull Tv has been great, but its still really only reaching the people who are seeking MTB coverage.
The best known names in mountain biking among the average citizen aren't the guys at the top of the podium, they're the guys putting out viral videos.
And you're right, it's the Youtuber's that are showing brands what could be done. It just goes to show that there is a strong market for "good" mtb content... but the brands and the industry isn't providing it. I don't think the brands even fully comprehend how much value they're getting out of these youtubers. And a number of them are flipping bike sponsors almost every year because there's no value in the sponsorship... yet it seems the sponsors playing it with a pretty heavy hand.... then they get dropped.
there just isn't the money in cycling that people think there is
Most of us will just never hit that level of financial and/or competitive success in anything. That's life ♂️
And for most of the world pro football is the dream of the majority of boys and so it is the very few who make it pro and it’s even fewer who make insane amounts.
Also being pro in any sport is extremely difficult and mentally taxing, it’s not the great fun easy thing everyone thinks it is
But I agree, don't watch it, don't support it.
That Messi guy gets 4€ per second of his life haha.
Kids, learn how to communicate, learn how to "sell" without "selling", be polite, be personable, do not be an elitist snob. Overall, great information and super interesting. Thanks!
I thought the definition of "professional" was getting paid?
Are we talking the median of the averages or the average of the medians? What is the mode of the averages of the medians? Have you considered the skew of the kurtosis?
Studies like this help out, but it's crazy when you hear the old heads talk about the "glory days" when DH racing was actually similar to F1 with huge hospitality trailers for teams and people still deep in the field making close to 100k. Of course, you also had a lot of corporate sponsorship from outside the MTB world back then (car companies and such). Not sure they're interested in getting back into it in that way any longer. But damn... it would be nice for the athletes.
Only those making podium at a very consistent level could even remotely be seen as pro. The rest of us were either in school, or working part time and training every spare moment we had. Was still fun though!
If you can eat and have healthcare I'd take $20K and all the free bike stuff and trips I can manage, over $55K sitting in a cubicle slowly dying any day. The cubicle dweller is the real victim here.
I've joined the successful and working these days, but at one time I pursued motorcycle racing because it was a dream, not because I ever had a chance of earning a decent living from it. Wouldn't take it back either. In fact if it wasn't for my kid I wish I could be transported back there right now, massive pay cut and all.
Don't feel sorry for professional riders, you should envy them for living the dream, at any salary.
Every time i read about someone struggling trying to make a living out of their passion, I remember how ispirational was, in my late teens, reading Munari's "Arte come mestiere" (Design as Art).
it helpet me an awful lot in clearing my path through my early professional life
The former could cause issues if the low-response-rate groups saw higher caliber athletes be more likely to respond, resulting in incorrectly high salary numbers.
The latter could cause issues if the samples for DH and enduro capture more lower-tier riders.
Overall, I would like to see the distributions across rider quality by discipline so we can understand how bias may be playing a role.
Strongly Disagree or Disagree: 80%
Strongly Agree or Agree: 20%
It's called life, hahaha.
DH riders apparently get hosed, which is funny because so much focus is placed on DH racing, well at least UCI World Cup anyways. Perhaps being a pro DH rider isn't as big a deal as we all thought.
I'm not surprised slopestyle/freeride brings in the big bucks. Big risks and showy performances that are spectator friendly make it easy to draw a big crowd. Hard to do that in DH since the tracks are so long and often very obscured by natural obstacles. That is however interestingly contrasted by the pay in XC and EN. Maybe its because those segments are more relatable to the average mountain biker. EWS may also have the benefit of being the hip new kid on the block.
Something definitely needs to change to resolve the gender pay gap, that's embarassing.
If I had a hobby building chairs and sold 10 throughout the year for a profit of $5000, I wouldn't go around telling people my job was building and selling chairs.
These guys are doing the job !
i don’t think it’s the same with DH and enduro...
My take is slopestyle is covered by multiple media outlets and has wide appeal viewer-wise... groms might not watch UCI XCO, but the people watching XCO will watch slope events as well.
or, the amount of riders earning over 100.000, and do not have a guaranteed salary.
1/ Only 25% of riders are making a livable wage (IMO) of $50K to 100K USD.
2/ Re "I am paid fairly for what I do"
Only 29% are in the "Strongly agree" and "agree" categories, and the remainder are a mix of Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree. Those are poor numbers, but in line with what I expected.
I'm guessing the following, but MTB racing doesn't enjoy the vast TV revenue that other sports enjoy, probably because it's not that interesting for most and hard to capture well for that TV audience.
Though, I suppose, if I factor in parts, maintenance etc. this could be where the -$5000 comes in.
Dam, I just walked myself through the woods... guess I’ll pat myself on the back now.
Anecdotal, of course, and there's much to be discussed about marketing, etc. but I think it does start there. I can remember when men's soccer was an absolute backwater in the US. But, there was a very dedicated - almost obsessive - mostly-male fanbase doing everything they could to build the brand to what it is today in the US; which is actually quite healthy and growing. And it's not as if MTB'ing - even in the best of circumstances - is a marketing powerhouse. Despite it's growth, it's still niche and requires fans to resort to watching live streams on Sunday morning and reading Pinkbike. It's just that, there's a ton of men who will to go pretty nuts in spending on sports.
This is especially stark, considering that women make up over half the population and have more earning power than ever and this is more pronounced the younger you go (where women are out-earning men). They could spend their money on professional women's sports. And this is an end run around the "problem". Really, even assuming something "unfair" was going on (the evidence of which is lacking), a goldmine cannot be denied - and does exist in some cases (women's tennis, for example). The best way to "defeat" sexism is to go around it.
But, on balance, women don't spend on professional women's sport - or at least, nowhere near the same rate as men do on men's professional sports. This could perhaps change. Maybe it will. But, it's a long grind. Ask any fan of a sport that is in the backdrop. Most importantly, however, is that the change has to start at the ground level. If a critical mass of women aren't watching/spending on women's sports, should we be surprised that men aren't?
The "problem" with this is that there's no viable business model based solely off of major tournaments every 2-4 years. Successful sports leagues very much depend on that steady stream of money being pumped in by fans willing to grind it out for the long haul. There's just no comparison, in terms of long term financial benefit, between say obsessed ManU fans storming the pitch b/c they're upset with the ownership and "hey, the world cup is on, this will be fun!" This is why, historically, marketers have obsessed over the 16-40 male demographic...within this demographic, you have a high concentration of potential lifelong, obsessed customers. And it makes sense...think about how much money a single lifelong ManU fan in England probably spends on ManU.
Unless and until female professional sports viewing habits radically change to look something like it does with men (which is possible, but seems unlikely anytime soon), it will always lag far behind in terms of money.
Teams do not churn any actual profit, unlike other professional sports teams that have the ability to license merchandise or sell home venue tickets.
Why are the majority of title sponsors all bike manufacturers?
Because that's the base of the small market watching the sport. The sport needs to add a compelling value proposition to MTB to lure those big sponsors outside the bike realm. This is where the high value money is made. Until then, MTB will be just like the dozens of other lesser known sports where the top level athletes are doing it mostly for the love of the sport.
Anyways whatever. The riders should unionize.
-MTB industry to MTB riders wanting to be paid.
There are a few graphs that would really be interesting in this regard:
- pay vs. ranking (obviously there would be some clever way needed to keep anonymity)
- pay vs. followers
- how do pure YouTubers compare against racers in pay?
To me the biggest surprise is how well slopestyle/freeride riders are paid, and I am almost sure a lot of that is because of YouTube.
The best advice is unless you can go straight to the top like Gwin then go ahead
otherwise, build a good career and salary and buy all the bikes/parts/travel you want.
Personally im nearing 30 with what i would say is a happy salary and can buy whatever bike and travel to any event I want.
I had many many sports friends who showed alot of promise, they spent untill late 20's trying to get money out of it, now they struggle just to live with a job packing shelves or serving fast food.
One thing that's come out the comments... I'm really struggling to wrap my head around people feeling like there should be some minimum floor that MTB athletes should be paid. The only way there's anything wrong with the pay, is if bike companies are banding together though back door channels and coming to agreements not to pay athletes more than x value (i.e. collusion against the riders by the industry). Otherwise, they're being paid what the market has deemed they are worth, in the industry they've decided to be in. If they continue on with that career, then they're agreeing to work for it, by choice, and choices carry consequences (both good and bad).
Long ago, I was a bike mechanic, at my pinnacle including working on pro riders bikes (in their off seasons, to be fair). I absolutely loved it. I've always said I'd have done it forever if it paid the bills, but it really didn't- So, I made a choice to change careers. But, for those years I chose to be broke, and it was worth the joy of it all... of course I felt I deserved more, but it was that joy that kept me on board. I'm sure a lot of riders feel the same way. It's OK to accept low pay if you deem it worth it based on other value. For me, when it came down to it, I made the choice to go get more money so I could build a family, it cost changing careers. I surely don't love my job now like I did then.
These individuals make their choice daily. The market pays what it pays- each individual can make the decision to keep at it, or not. I guess the answer to getting paid more is 1. be better, 2. unionize (which has its own costs & difficulties), or 3. go do something else. Sadly, loving a job doesn't qualify you for making whatever we on the internet deem as "fair".
I thought the "where do you get your money" and "what do your sponsors look for" data points were particularly interesting.
Suggestion - there should be a riders’ union that would guarantee a base pay
Question - what about the teams? How much does it cost to set up a team? I’m sure we will be surprised
Another question - how much are team managers making?
My two cents
Cool article, but, why call them "professional" if the only criterion for including them is a top-40 finish? Normally a "professional" is someone whose profession is the activity in question. The people making a few $K/year total from MTBing aren't MTBing as a profession.
As it stands now, including the 35% of who make 50% or less of their income in MTB, makes it more like "how much do people who are exceptional at mountain biking get paid". Their results being included definitely skews the outcome. 21% of respondents "don't take a wage from mountain biking"... why are they included at all? That's the opposite of being a pro, heh.
Still interesting, no doubt.
Palmer - yeah I get paid, then I don’t so I’m wearing jeans and I’m deleting my insta bitches (whatever that shit is)
Also it is better to use AGwin on the first char as last column
After reading about the US women’s soccer team joke....I just can’t be bothered to give a shit.
So Troy Brosnan is taking home way more than anyone else in DH? Propably not
I'd also suggest that it's more mature as a discipline (in terms of years, but perhaps also attitudes).
Opposite of F1.
Isn't that just being unemployed?
it should exist as no woman can compete in mens sport period.when was last time you see woman doing double flip in rampage ? or wining dh run with no chain?
by power mens are always better,by mind is different situation ,mens get paid more cuz they entertain more thats it and it nothing wrong with it.
there are only 2 genders male and female.
It's also an Olympic sport, which I think helps. We just hosted some Olympic qualifying events in our town, and they were pretty huge. I don't really love XC either, but I will say that XCO courses are pretty awesome and the riding is impressive. It's a lot more exciting than the old "road ride on soft surface" courses of the past.
It’s maybe also related to the fact that “successful” people tend to be also competitive in sports and look for role models in racers (with Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff being basically stars of the sport, Nino even riding on a Swiss bike brand)
Equality cannot be based on a capitalist system.
This article is EXTREMELY biased from the start
@brianpark how is there not a follow up article on how horrendously non male participants and professionals are treated in our sport? you are a professional and i respect your work, please have a non white male write a follow up...
Please do the right thing and point out that