Umpires Leave With More Cash in Their Tennis Bag Than the Tennis Players

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Money for NothingSome major athletes have made millions by showcasing their talent in public arenas, leaving matches stuffing loads of cash into their tennis bags. Roger Federer, for instance, is the top paid tennis competitor with about 41.8 million in prize winnings.  Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters have also made a pretty penny  by playing in some of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments.  Although the lucky few earn a living that would be hard to spend in a lifetime, the payoff for some athletes is surprisingly small. At Futures tennis events, for example, the players may leave with less than the chair umpires.

The USTA Pro Circuit can easily be compared to the minor leagues of tennis. The circuit is composed of 88 events; “Futures” events with the prize money totaling around $10,000 to $15,000 and “Challenger” events with the total prize money running in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

Recently, in Vero Beach, Fla. there was a $10,000 futures event where Australian player, John-Patrick Smith won the title over Brazilian, Pedro Zerbini. The crowd consisted of more than 300 tennis fans that each paid either $10 or $20 for their seat.

Smith`s prize money for his title win totaled $1,300 as well his prize money for willing the doubles title which totaled $630 which he split with his partner, American, Benjamin Rogers. Runner- up Zerbini took home $900. Zerbini was participating in Vero Beach for nine days playing eight matches; the breakdown being $100 per day.

Another player, Kriegler Brink earned $200 when he made it to the second round of the singles matches where he lost to Zerbini.

Up and coming American player, Tennys (pronounced “tennis”) Sandgren also made it to the semifinals in this Futures event and raked in a whopping $480.

The players who took place in this event were able to stay at hotels in the area and in some cases can stay for free with local families willing to help out an aspiring athlete. The hotels typically run about $125 per night. In Zerbini`s case, if he did stay in a hotel for the nine days he participated in the tournament , it would have cost him $1125, before tax, which put him at $225 in the hole!

The hotel is only one expense that the players must accept when playing at this event; although the tournament offers lunches, every other meal and expense must come out of the players pocket, so in reality, it costs some, if not all of the players money to compete in this specific event.

Surprising as it may be, however, the umpires and officials working this event may actually leave with more money in their tennis bag than the players. Vero Beach Futures tournament director, Mike Rahaley, was given $4,500 to pay the umpires and officials  (at a tournament at this level there is typically three to five umpires and officials). Not only that but the tournament pays for the official’s room and board fees which ran about $3,000.

Similar to an aspiring actor, a young tennis player trying to make it to the Grand Slams is going to have to sacrifice in more ways than one including accepting these small paychecks.  Despite the small paychecks that don`t even cover their expenses, the motivation is obvious. Leaving with less cash in their tennis bag than they came with is hopefully just a stepping stone to the “major leagues.”

Courtney Sloan is a copywriter and a college student majoring in mass media. As a copywriter with a love of tennis, Courtney has made it her assignment to research tennis news, highlights, products and more and share her findings with the tennis community. 

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  • Published: Apr 27th, 2012
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The View from the Umpire Chair: Not Always the Best Seat in the House

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Typically, when we watch tennis matches we focus on the players; watching it on our television or, if we are lucky enough, from a seat in the stands. But do you ever wonder what a tennis match would look like sitting in the umpire chair?

Sitting in the umpire chair during a match not only gives you the best view but you are the final say on all calls; a rather powerful position.

Although sitting in the umpire chair gives a sense of authority, the view from the top isn’t always as great as you would think.

In September of 2011, many top tennis officials decided not to participate in the US Open and opted to give up their prime seat on the umpire chair.

The 2011 US Open raked in a record high $23.7 million in prize money with the tournaments total earnings exceeding $200 million. Despite the tournament`s high revenue,  the gold badge chair umpires, some who officiate at the legendary Wimbledon tournament, only make $250 per day sitting in the umpire chairs at the US Open; the lowest pay for any Grand Slam tournament.

A retired gold badge chair umpire, Norm Chryst, stated that, “The U.S. Open makes more and more each year, but very little of that goes to the officials. Gold badge umpires don’t want to come here. Why? A lot of the answer is money.”

Not only do chair umpires have to sometimes deal with unfair pay rates but along with the prime view of the players from the umpire chair, sometimes come harsh words from pros when officials have to make  difficult calls that the athletes don`t agree with.

In September 2011, again at the US Open, Serena Williams was extremely upset with umpire, Eva Asderaki, after she made a call ruling that Williams grunted with the intent of distracting her opponent, Samantha Stosur.

Eva Asderaki kept her cool while getting berated by Williams who also confused Asderaki with a US Open official from two years prior saying, “Aren’t you the one that screwed me over last time? Yeah, you are. Seriously, you have it out for me.” Asderaki, looking down at Serena from her umpire chair, shook her head “no,” but Williams continued her insulting rant.

More recently, in January of 2012, David Nalbandian criticized the chair official, Kader Nouni, for over-ruling a point. Later, Nalbandian told reporters he felt that Nouni wasn`t fit to sit in the umpire chair.

In another recent incident involving umpire, Kader Nouni and pro, Caroline Wozniacki, Wozniacki was upset that Nouni overruled a call on a match point. Wozniacki felt that he should have stayed out of it because of the fact that she had no more challenges while opponent, Maria Sharapova did.  The replay showed that Nouni`s call was right however, an angry Wozniacki, who ultimately lost the match, refused to shake Nouni`s hand at the end of the match when he came down from his umpire chair.

Those are just a few instances where sitting front-row-center in the umpire chair is not so rewarding. What players fail to realize when arguing with the chair umpire is that no matter what, the official`s position gives them the final say.

SI.com journalist, Courtney Nguyen, said in an article that “Umpires are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, damned the minute they start climbing that little chair of theirs.” As you can see the view from the umpire chair can be quiet controversial at times.

Courtney Sloan is a college student studying the field of mass media and a copywriter. As a writer and a tennis enthusiast, Courtney has made it her top priority to research and write about topics including tennis news, tennis products, fashion and more and report her findings to the tennis community. 

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What makes the Masters so Unique?

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The British professional golfer Nick Faldo.

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I was in my local watering hole the other day for a pleasant Friday afternoon pub dinner, only to find a golf tournament being shown on the big screen slightly surreal but none the less enjoyable. It seems that every time the PGA or European tour come through, not too much attention is paid to these relatively high stakes competition but when the Masters comes along even the most passive of a Golf enthusiast are truly engrossed in the four day tournament this year held in Augusta.

As I found myself enthralled by the amazing shots and the drama of the game at hand it caught me unaware that an hour had passed and I hadn’t taken my eyes off the screen, watching each and every lusciously carved shot by Schwartzel.

Obviously it is a Major Tournament and the golfer is judged on how many Majors they win over the course of their career, but there always seems to be an extra feeling of urgency when it comes to each player’s shot. On paper it is just another major and the money would pale in significance to what I feel is the major factor that inspires the pressure and excitement.

The competition itself is steeped in tradition and has many different awards for the players that happen to perform exceptional feats during the tournament. The main privilege of winning the Masters is that you are presented with the hallowed Green Jacket, the symbol of Golfing stardom.

As a casual golfer and a “part-time” of golf tables, the controversy surrounding some well known wild cat named golfers and the fresh faces of the European golfers has stimulated a world wide interest in the game and long may it continue.

Europeans such as Lee Weswood and Rory McIlroy have gone a long way to stimulating the interest in the sport, with McIlroy leading the standings after the first day it was thought that a European might find himself wearing the green jacket, being the first European to win the tournament for 15 years, since Nick Faldo won his third Masters Title since 1996. This would have gone a long way to re-igniting the spark for European golfers but like all competitions talent needs to be weighed in relation to keeping a calm head and the tournament favorite McIlroy failed to capitalize on his leading position and dropped to seventh at the closing of the competition, instead handing the competition to South African Charl Schwartzel after some stunning shots on the final day, including a 20 foot sink on the last hole to finish the day six under par.

Overall the competition this year was an exciting spectacle of grit and determination and as golf tournaments go, one of the best in recent years with its fair share of ups, downs, birdies and the odd eagle.

Andy is more enthused with the technology in place on the golf course and works on behalf of a golf trolley battery shop selling a variety of golf batteries and other leisure batteries. Follow him on Twitter @andym23.

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Watch the London Olympics on Television

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2012 Summer Olympics

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If you enjoy watching sporting events then you will want to be sure to tune into watch the London 2012 Olympic Games. They will be broadcast to an audience around the world. The London Olympics will be watched by millions of viewers around the globe. There will be broadcasters from every corner of the world in London with their cameras trained on the athletes. Viewers will be able to watch an amazing array of athletic abilities on display.

These games will take place in the summer. They will feature a wide variety of sporting events. While the winter Olympics feature sports like hockey and skiing the summer games feature sports like swimming, diving, and track and field competitions. The athletes that take part are the best in the world. They have competed against other athletes in their own countries in order to win the right to represent their country in London. Only the best get to go. They are able to compete for medals to show off their amazing abilities. The top athlete wins a gold medal. The second best athlete wins a silver medal. The third best athlete wins a bronze medal. Quite often the top athletes become famous after they have achieved such greatness. They go on to sign big endorsement contracts with advertisers. They use their celebrity status to endorse different products that people might be interested in buying. Many athletes that take part in the Olympics are not very well paid so it is only after they prove their greatness that the money actually starts to roll in.

If you love watching sports then taking a couple of weeks off in the summer of 2012 might be a good idea. You can do nothing but watch sports on television and cheer for your own country to do well in the standings.

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The Top Five most Ludicrously Overpaid Sportspeople

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David Beckham

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There’s crazy money in sport ––– we all know it. And it’s never been fresher on the mind: January’s football transfer window saw £136 million spent in transfer fees on just four players, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s Andy Carroll, Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko and Aston Villa’s Darren Bent.

But as stunning as those transfer fees are, the real crazy money is in the salaries top sportspeople get paid.
After all, the first big news story of the football season came from the transfer that wasn’t. Having threatened to leave Manchester United, Wayne Rooney’s new contract sees him pocketing £26,000 – the nation’s average annual salary – every day.

Outrageous? Of course. But even those massive earnings pale into insignificance when you compare him to some of sport’s most extravagantly compensated individuals. Rooney might be rich but at least he’s helping to win championships – which is by no means the case for all the stars below. Without further ado, here’s our list of the most ludicrously overpaid sports stars on the global scene.

Fernando Alonso (Motorsport)

Formula 1’s highest earning driver is pocketing an annual £23million retainer from Ferrari – and that’s just his fee for driving. He can (and doubtless does) earn a lot more in top in the form of personal sponsors and team bonuses. Is this fair reward for a driver who risks his life at the highest speeds at the very pinnacle of his sport? Well, first you might weigh up that it’s almost double the fee of the second highest earner, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. But then consider who actually raced to the title this year: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, whose pay packet is a relatively paltry £2million. Does Alonso look a touch overpaid in comparison?

David Beckham (Football)

East London’s most famous footballing son walked into an astonishing £162million contract when he moved to LA Galaxy in 2007. He might have been approaching the twilight of his career in 2007, but that didn’t stop the Americans using a colossal amount of cash to lure him away from arguably Europe’s most prestigious (and wealthy) club, Real Madrid. Sure, Galaxy have enjoyed modest successes with Beckham in midfield, but he doesn’t even play for them all year round – signing, for example, to play for AC Milan during the mid-season break last year. It’s a ludicrously high salary even if you are an international ‘sex symbol’!

Maria Sharapova (Tennis)

Speaking of which…why is Maria Sharapova (current world ranking: 13) getting paid so much more than the current world number 1, Caroline Wozniacki? Ah, yes: that familiar factor in the world of female sports stars: marketability based on looks. Sharapova made history in 2010 by signing the most lucrative sporting contract ever by a female: she will take home around £45 million for wearing Nike apparel. That’s just one of her endorsements; she also has deals with Tropicana and Gatorade. Oh, and doesn’t she earn some money from tennis as well? Yes… although that’s an interesting point: all this reward overlooks the fact that she hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since 2008. Maybe we should compare her earnings to other models rather than sports stars?

Tiger Woods (Golf)

Despite the recent turmoil in his personal life, Tiger Woods remains one of the most overpaid sports stars. The first athlete to earn over one billion dollars in his career, Tiger has ruthlessly exploited more than just his sporting ability: like many of the other players in this list, the real key to Woods’ wealth is that he’s a marketing machine. From the moment he turned professional, Woods was signing big money endorsements, starting with £40million contracts from Nike and Titleist before he’d won anything at all. Nowadays Nike alone pay him more than £21million a year – handsomely recouped at golf shop tills, no doubt – and that’s before you mention PepsiCo (he launched Gatorade’s ‘Tiger’ drink), Tag Heuer, Buick, Gillette, and at least half a dozen others. However, the picture gets a little murkier following Woods’ recent sordid escapades in the tabloids. Some sponsors have publicly dropped him, others are prevaricating, which means that Woods might have to go back to earning good old fashioned prize money instead.

Alex Rodriguez (Baseball)

Finally, if you thought soccer money was crazy, consider American sport. As characterised in Jerry Maguire, the US sport scene still throws up stories of wild excesses and relentless money-grabbing.

First, take a look at baseball. 8 of the top 10 most lucrative sporting deals in history have been between baseball players and their clubs. Top dog in this league table of notorious money magnets is Alex Rodríguez: A-Rod to his fans, and ‘Darling’, we presume, to girlfriend Cameron Diaz. His 10 year contract with the New York Yankees is worth £180million, not including bonuses and off-field endorsements. Wait, who was the second highest paid player in baseball? Rodríguez again: this time the mere £162million contract with Texas Rangers that preceded his current deal.

Still, at least baseball guys play up to 160 games a season. To really put things into context we should look at what players earn per competitive encounter – and for this we ought to glance at American football. With only 16 games in the regular season, the per-game figures for these guys are staggering. How about Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the (recently defeated in Superbowl 40) Pittsburgh Steelers? His £66 million, 7-year contract will see him earn close to £500,000 every game.

So how does all this make you feel, when you consider the effort you put yourself through every day to earn a living?

A little… undervalued, perhaps?

Garry Hudson writes about all things debt and financial related and currently works for Baines and Ernst

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