To make money you need a crowd, preferably a big and dumb one. If that’s not covered, the bank manager will not be smiling. Have you seen the people who do magic tricks and dance on the street? Their business plan is simple – higher traffic = more potential revenue. The same is true for virtually any field. Unfortunately, or not, bodybuilding and powerlifting do not follow a scheme capable of producing a massive crowd.
The reasons? Where do I start?
Most people don’t really want to applaud shaved and tanned men wearing platinum thongs. The flexing and the fake dehydrated smiles don’t help either. It’s also worth noting that there are only 2-3 major competitions throughout the year. Infrequent gatherings essentially mean that the store is closed most of the time. In comparison, others games like football have major ceremonies every week. More ceremonies = more = people = more bank.
I have an exercise for you. Take a nice quality picture of your favorite bodybuilder. The one on your refrigerator will do just fine. Show it to 10 random people. 11 out them will label you as a malfunctioning bio-machine. In case you are wondering what names they may be calling you, look up the term “schmoe”. It’s one of the many possibilities.
The fact that the majority condemns something does not mean that the activity is bad. However, in this case, we are talking about milking the horde of walking pinheads, which means that the show has to appeal to the neurotipical brain. The sports that produce the greatest amount of revenue are the ones with the biggest and therefore dumbest crowds. Coincidence? Not really. Just careful and smart programming.
Powerlifting shares the same properties. Approach 10 random people and show them a video of a powerlifting world record. Most likely 8 out 10 will be bored out of their minds before the lift has even started.
To the ordinary person, heavy is heavy. People don’t care whether the weight is 300 pounds or 800 pounds. Also, looking at big hairy men in singlets screaming like monkeys is not really entertaining either. Truth be told, the sport of powerlifting is only interesting if you are involved in it yourself, and we all know that the crowd does not even lift.
So, where is the big money supposed to come from if competition is not an option? It can come only from products and services – supplements, books, thongs, G4P, autographs, drugs, coaching…etc.
The drugs that professionals have to take make those two muscle games a bad investment. Every month a large chunk of resources is invested in muscle fibers, but very few competitions actually pay well. Unless you have a contract with a magazine or a sugar mommy you are screwed. I don’t think there is a single competition that pays good money compared to other hhigh-level sports contests. Given the large expenses spent on maintaining the big muscles, the prize money for first place is cheap change compared to what more popular sports such as cricket, chess, baseball, football, rugby and tennis have to offer.
Out of the two, powerlifting seems to award the worse paycheck. For his raw bench press world record Eric Spoto got something like 5,500 dollars. Obviously, this is not a lot of money, especially in America. Damn, even darts pays better.
One of the reasons why powerlifting is not a popular sport is the high number of federations and the lack of support from the state.
Olympic weightlifters are not millionaires either, but at least the best receive better salaries and recognition. That’s because the sport is professional, and there aren’t twenty different federations.
If there is only one governing body with strict judging, powerlifting may be able to compete with Olympic weightlifting. Currently, however, many meets are literally judged by friends of the lifters. Often the so-called judges just feel obligated to give white lights even when there’s an obvious violation of the rules (e.g., not pausing the bench or locking out your deadlift.)
Anyway, even with all that fixed, the sport will still be a low paying one. People don’t want to see man after man performing the same thing. The crowd wants action.
Remember: we are trying to hit the public, not just a small horde of muscle nerds. I understand that when you are personally involved you can see details that others can’t, but when you go to a movie that sucks despite the great video editing, you still call it out, don’t you? Well, the crowd does the same.
Even some of the greatest muscle heroes like the Terminator himself have made most of their bank from activities outside of the iron room. Bodybuilding and powerlifting can help your career too, but they will rarely be a source of millions.
Of course, the fact that something is popular does not make it worthy. The national sport in my country is football. I used to play it as a kid and even collected figures and stickers. Guess, what? Now I hate football and can’t stand watching it. For this reason alone, you shouldn’t give up on something just because it’s not trendy. Trendy is overrated.
Part of the reasons why some sports are more popular than others are cultural. People associate with different games without actually liking the activity that much. The feeling of belonging to a group is addictive. It makes you feel like you have a life, even though you are used as a sponsor by the owners and the bookies.
Modern athletics work like stationary bikes – people use them to burn energy without having to go anywhere.
Sports watching and entertainment in general could be looked at as a yard walk in a universal prison. It’s all a distraction from a live sentence. At the end of the day, however, you still sleep in your cell.
Will this ever change? I doubt it.