For those of us whose primary fandom of Motocross and Supercross revolve around the US based series’, the last checkered flag has flown and the Champion’s crowned. With the Motocross des Nations next on the schedule to wet our appetites, yet not quite close enough to delve into the conjecture surrounding this year’s sure to be epic running at Red Bud, it’s a real odd spot for racers to find themselves. The schedule for our disciplines of two-wheeled warfare is less than ideal. With Supercross beginning in January, Motocross in May, the one month void leading up to Motocross des Nations, which this year runs a mere week prior to the Monster Energy Cup before the actual “off-season” kicks into gear.
The off-season is anything but what it’s name implies. This is the time where the riders are setting the foundation of preparation which is catered to carry them into and through the following 8 months of flat out racing. The time these guys put in is one thing but the level of commitment and effort they marry themselves to is something that most of us can’t relate to and could never do ourselves. Talent and execution aside.
And this brings me to the crux of this weeks column. It’s always struck me just how gnarly these top guys in racing are, yet when it comes to trying to get any type of rider-rights instituted (I am NOT going to say the word this time), it’s as if they just Do. Not. Care. There are plenty of areas surrounding riders-rights that are glaringly lacking, for instance, the utterly unnecessary and negative results of the Supercross Series’ affiliation with the FIM, lethargic “growth” of rider purse and even something is simple as this ridiculous concept of “pay to play” that makes absolutely zero sense.
Lets break this down to the most basic of concepts. Say you have an enterprising friend who’s only skill set is to be able to target a market for a service that YOU provide. This friend charges a premium to the consumers of YOUR service so that these consumers can consume YOUR service. You MIGHT receive a laughably-fractional portion of this premium if YOUR service IF you perform ideally but only IF you pay your friend up front for the opportunity to provide YOUR service to the consumer. This is fucking insane! I played drums in punk bands in my younger days and even us crusty punk rock kids who blitzed the city streets on skateboards and knew people looked at us like scumbag juvenile youths, yes EVEN US, would NEVER pay to play a show.
I just can’t wrap my head around how at the very pinnacle of professional Supercross and Motocross, while the promoters and sanctioning bodies are charging the consumer for the privilege to watch the incredible racing, the participants themselves are also required to pay just to be able to line up and provide the entertainment. I get that they have to pay for their Sanctioning License, there has to be some kind of barrier to participation but all the week to week, event to event entry fee’s are an unnecessary part of this puzzle. Especially when the purse rewards are as disproportionate as they are when compared to inflation and risk as well.
It really feels disrespectful to me when you consider how dangerous this sport is and the promoters still have the audacity to essentially say, “yeah we know that you are the show and you are risking your life but forget all that, we still need you to pay us for the opportunity to risk your life in front of these crowds and to have the chance to earn back a piece of that opportunity-fee”.
Do the right thing promotors, bury those entry fee’s or increase the purse. Just because you have created a way to monetize (in a disgustingly grandiose way) being a middle-man, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. It’s certainly not respectable.
What has always been does not mean it is right. It’s not even close.