Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Have A Voice.

Here's a question for you: Why would a cycling club, which has perhaps the greatest percentage of female cyclists of any Victorian club, which has a dedicated women's development squad, which has women's subcommittee whose stated aim is "To encourage, support and provide opportunities for women of all ages and abilities to reach their cycling goals", not pay equal prize money at their team time trial challenge? That's right, St Kilda Cycling Club, I'm talking about you. It's bad enough you have a quasi-racist Phil Liggett quote on your front page ("The Colombians are wonderful climbers, they just tend to fall off their bikes a lot on the descents," Don't get me wrong, I love Phil as much as you do, but he's been around a while, and blokes of his age have a tendency to drop the odd racist clanger. Don't think that's a racist statement? Lumping distinct individuals into one group based on their nationality ok by you? Perhaps you need to read more of this blog). But really, with all the work you've put into ensuring women feel welcome at your club, why would you slap them in the face with this second-class citizen bullshit?

At the Cyclocross we paid equal prize money. Not just for men and women, but across the grades and categories. If you won the A grade cyclocross, you got the same as whoever won the B grade open bikes. Equal prize money across the grades and genders is a system that is open to abuse, but was - in our experience - rarely abused. It acknowledges that in a race everyone is busting their guts, regardless of whether it's D grade averaging 30ks an hour, or A grade averaging 50. Or whether they're women racing other men, or women racing other women.

It could be argued that this creates a disincentive for elite riders to turn up. Here's the thing, though - elite riders aren't riding for the hundred dollars they might win at St Kilda on a Sunday morning. They're racing to win. The amount of money on the line doesn't matter. It's the win that they want above all else.

But when you're telling someone that their win is somehow worth less than the win of others - especially if it's because of their gender - then that's kinda fucked up.


Litespeed said...

I hear what you are saying, but it's almost the opposite of what you said last week regarding Masters racing & how we should not have age based grades.

Personally, I think the A-Grade winner should get more. They bust their gut training for 5,6 or 700km's a week in the hope of leading to bigger things. The D-Grade winner may not have even thrown a leg over the bike that week.

You are getting paid for not just the effort on the day, but the effort which got you into which ever grade you are in.

Totally agree that the woman's grades should mirror the mens however.
A-Grade Womans = A-Grade Mens for instance.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your blog. Also the number if olaced paid down to. Sometimes there are 25+ starters in Womens A and they still only pay to 2nd. The men's grades they seem to pay to 3rd always. Women pay the same entry price so should be getting the same prize $ and number of placings

Luke said...

Whilst women can compete in Men's grades due to it being a higher standard, they shouldnt receive the same pay. A Grade men should be paid higher than all other grades.

just thinking said...

I too thought it a bit incongruous of Brendan to talk in these terms after the Master's article he wrote. Personally I agree mostly with the Masters tack he took and therefore also feel there is no reason why women should not race with the men according to ability - for the same prize pool.

(Proper grading is of course the Elephant in the room that many of these issues require to be sorted first)

I think at St kilda on Sunday there were around 40 women racing across three grades. There were around 250 men racing. 70 ish in A grade v 13 in Womens A. I believe the women also have the opportunity to race in the mens races for free if they had entered the womens races first ?

When you consider the entry fees as building a prize money pool I think St Kilda are already doing a good job of using overall entries to subsidise and encourage womens racing for low fields. None of the women i have spoken to who race in a field of 13 feel they are being hard done by in not being paid down to 5th place and the same $$ as a mens field of around 70.

If numbers entered were closer then yes of course, prize money should be equal.

If grade entries are equal be it in F grade or A grade - the prize pool should be equal.

If there is a feature race or a sponsor who wants to throw more money at a Womens race or certain men's A grade race - then let them pay it despite entries.

I'd like to see the women race with the men and have a shot at the money in every grade. Perhaps run A to F rather than A to E and don't have womens specific racing. Give everyone more time and more space on the track too ! Perhaps occasional gender based races as a feature - sponsored for big money. But what do i know ? St Kilda are more tuned to the best way to encourage participation and the nitty gritty of their own p&l.