Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Butting In Where I Don't Belong

Those of you who know me at least somewhat well will know that I'm sincere in this. It will probably piss some people off anyway.

Why should races run multiple womens fields when the numbers don't justify it, and why should women show up to race in combined fields when the 4s and most 3s know they have an excellent chance of being blown out in the opening laps?

This is an issue of which I would have remained blissfully unaware had I not stumbled into race promotion. From under my promoter's hat, I can say that the cost to run multiple women's fields at Lost River is prohibitive based on likely participation. And the data used to predict participation is very clear. If you lose money running a race, the race won't last long.

My only real inspiration on this is if some sponsor would post a bond, guaranteeing promoters of races that if they ran multiple women's fields, that a shortfall in revenue from women's participation would be made up out of the bond. So if you run an extra women's field and only 10 women race in it, the bond takes some of the financial hurt off of the promoter. If 30 women show up, the bond pays nothing. These numbers are hypothetical to illustrate my point.

Zipping up fireproof suit...

12 comments:

Jim said...

Dave, when you see a wasps' nest, do you find yourself inclined to get a baseball bat, walk up to it, and hit it as hard as you can? I'm just wondering.

Dave K said...

always with the kick

Pete said...

I could write a lot more, but I think I will just say this:

"Demand more fields by increasing demand."

After years of hearing about this issue, I think this is the most likely way to spur change.

GamJams said...

It sucks that decisions like this - the ones that could (to Pete's point) spur growth in women's racing, junior's racing, or whatever development program of choice - come down to economics. If USA Cycling or a sponsor were serious about development, they should underwrite races in this way.

Dave, how much money are you talking about? Guaranteeing 20 extra spots, at $30 each? That's $600, and not even any guarantee they'd (whoever "they" is) have to pay all or any of it. Couple it with a sponsorship and you have a $600 package that costs AT MOST $600, and maybe even nothing. And because it's guaranteeing women or juniors or whomever a chance to race, it's worth a lot more than logo soup on an event t-shirt. It comes with genuine goodwill.

Some brand big on women's cycling should step in and do this nationwide. It would be the smartest $20K (AT MOST) they ever spent.

Dave K said...

Exactly the point Mike. If the program is successful, the bond poster/sponsor's financial outlay dwindles to zero as the women's fields fill up and having those fields becomes economically viable.

Anonymous said...

Well as the promoter of my club, and from a casual gander down here in the ole VA... I can tell you that l'd add womens races because in many of the clubs the women do the work. (cough cough)
I think what will really make races work in the long run is looking at the whole prize money issue. Unless you are doing NRC races... should you get prize money? Would races be more viable without it? I see lots of races with decent purses that have more payout slots than riders or close to it. Many races with low pay outs that fill up. Do people really race for money?

Karen said...

Well as the promoter of my club, and from a casual gander down here in the ole VA... I can tell you that l'd add womens races because in many of the clubs the women do the work. (cough cough)
I think what will really make races work in the long run is looking at the whole prize money issue. Unless you are doing NRC races... should you get prize money? Would races be more viable without it? I see lots of races with decent purses that have more payout slots than riders or close to it. Many races with low pay outs that fill up. Do people really race for money?

Dave K said...

Karen - I hear you on the prize money thing. I've done well in some big sailing stuff (equivalent to NRC+, not office park crits) and walked away with a firm handshake for my accomplishments. Others obviosly disagree with us.

Women and men seem to do about their fair shares in my team so I really can't speak to that, but I'd certainly expect a race run by a womens team to tip the balance real far in that direction, and well they should.

Thanks

Sigberto said...

Seeing that my comment sparked this blog/discussion in the first place, I feel I should chime in and echo Gamjam's concern above: it's unfortunate that this sort of decision has to be driven by money.

I also agree - prize money will not attract more low category riders. (Especially in an open women's field.) The top women's riders will show up one way or another to race a great course. The Cat 4 women might not be convinced they'll take home any cash (much less finish with the open 1-2-3 field). That means they'll just end up staying home that weekend.

If you're going to advertise a race by it's prize purse, that's to attract the Pro teams (a la ING criterium, no?).

Me? As a cat 4 guy I race for fun, not pennies. If I got some cash, it would make up for my registration fees and gas and I'd spend it on beer. Nobody is living off of cat 3/4 winnings (especially in DC), but it's a neat perk to make up your registration fees for kicking butt.

Luckily for the races in this area, there are enough 3-4-5 men entering races that you can hope for some decent field sizes somewhere, and at least some guaranteed entries (re: cash!).

Kyle Jones said...

Well you answered your own question about running more than one womans race. How many years did it take for NRC races to open the doors for womans fields. And how many still do not offer womans races. I think the first year is the hardest and 1 should suffice. Just offer medals/prizes to each category even though they are combined. If it is a big bang and a lot of buzz for next year then split it into two races.

As for prizes, I for one would be happy with a cheap medal I can hang on the wall. And a mention on the podium all year round. That is why I race. Money is always nice but I think reconition is the best. I do not know about you but I hate not knowing what I placed until I get home or who won.

theuffda said...

If you want to increase the number of women racing, you have to start with the lower categories--3 and 4 and offer ample opportunity for them to race against those of similar ability. Even if a Cat 4 cats up, if there is no one to race against (e.g. she can only race with 1/2s and often gets her tookis handed to her) then she isn't going to stay with it. Could you just offer a 3/4 or a 4 only and not offer a 1/2 field? I know, I know, then the 1/2s squawk about the lack of racing opportunities for them. But maybe some promoters can do 1/2 fields and the others 3 and 4? Would require organization at the district and perhaps regional level...While scoring separately is a good idea for open or mixed fields, those places are of no use in getting upgrade points (e.g. If you finish 15 in an open field, but 1st for the 4s, you get no upgrade points.) Interesting idea to get USA Cycling or other sponsor to "subsidize" promoters for women and junior races.

Dave K said...

Uff -
First, there is a car that parks on the street near my job that has an Uff Da bumper sticker.
Second, golf clap for use of the word tookis, but as Yiddish as that word is we might have to check your spelling.
I see and agree with your point on boosting 3-4 stuff. Absolutely. And if the race that I am running wasn't a significantly varsity level course I would very very seriously consider being that boost.
There are some other thoughts that I have on this but I've come to understand that bodily harm might come to me if I cross certain people. There are a number of ways that I think nearly instant and significant progress could be made on this, but perhaps it's better if I check in on the fish which I'm already trying to fry.
And yes, I think if USAC wanted to grow women's cycling they would nut up and do something like this, but if US Sailing is an indication of what USAC is like, that's just a game you lose by playing.

Thanks