Cooksey, Straight To The Point: House Of Cards

When I attend professional Supercross/motocross races I am always fascinated at how much money is spent on presentation.  Teams and promoters alike invest huge amounts of money, and it has me wondering where it all comes from and what drives the industry. Often, the presentation disguises how small the SX/MX sport is in comparison to other professional sports. Our top athletes are earning millions, but does that mean the sport is on the same level as other professional sports? The source of the money in our sport is built on a house of cards. The millions of dollars top racers earn annually could disappear much more easily than other professional sports. 

Looking at stick and ball sports, the majority of players income is paid via their teams. The teams generate income from ticket sales, TV contracts and licensing. Money split between players and owners is approximately 50-50. In addition, some players earn a significant amount from personal sponsors and product endorsements. Athletes in SX/MX rely almost exclusively on sponsors and endorsements. SX/MX teams don’t receive any direct revenue from promoters of the actual events. 

SX/MX teams rely exclusively on manufacturer's financial commitments. Teams are mostly funded by motorcycle brands and the occasional outside sponsor. The old motto was, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Manufacturers relied on racing to showcase their brands. This strategy has been so successful they pay riders millions to showcase their machines. Unfortunately, if the manufacturers ever choose a different marketing strategy the sport would no longer offer the opportunity for riders to make millions racing motorcycles. 

SX/MX events offer a purse, but the costs associated with competing far outweigh the purse. Riders are paid 12k to win a 450 Supercross race and 2k simply for qualifying for the main event. Walking through the pits at a Supercross event it’s clear the purse isn’t even close to what these teams spend to go racing. If manufacturers decide racing isn’t the best way to market their products it would be impossible for riders like Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Adam Cianciarulo and others to make millions racing. 

Today’s professional scene is completely different than ten or fifteen years ago. The internet and social media have completely changed how businesses and marketing is done. Many companies that used to sponsor race teams are shifting their money on internet ads and social media. Having riders utilize social media would help teams secure more outside sponsorship. The next generation of riders will need to have a strong following in order to secure sponsors. 

In order to turn SX/MX into a viable professional sport much like stick and ball sports, event promoters should look for ways to secure on-track racing without being completely dependent on the manufacturers. The immediate solution would be to start with some sort of revenue sharing for teams. Offering financial security for teams would ensure quality racers an opportunity to make a living.  Teams would be more accepting of entertainment value changes, as they would benefit financially when the series succeeds. In the end, sharing profits like stick and ball sports would benefit teams, riders and promoters all would make more money. It’s a proven successful blueprint.   

As a fan and enthusiast I want to see this sport get the credit and attention it deserves. Until everyone gets on the same page and works on profit growth for all, growth will be slow or limited. I know it would take a small miracle to implement my suggestion, but the key is insuring everyone makes more money and I believe that can happen.

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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