Atlanta Pro Ladies Divisions

IMG_4310This coming Friday, I will finish off my last evening at my job and will likely get home at around 11 pm. I will be leaving for Atlanta at around 3:00 am saturday morning, so hopefully I can get at least a couple hours worth of sleep!

The IBJJF Atlanta Pro competition starts at around 9 am next Saturday, but I need to be there at 8 because I will be working at the event. Not only will I be competing for a $400 cash prize, I will also get to collect a small paycheck at the end of the day. Receiving a paycheck makes the entire trip tax deductible as a business expense. Yay!

There is a much smaller turn out for this event than I was anticipating. Registration is now closed and I only have a division of 6, with 28 blue belt ladies total with 21 possible to enter the open division. So that comes down to 2-3 matches in my weight class, and 4-5 possible in the open weight class.

There needs to be a minimum of 4 competitors in order for the division cash prize to be awarded. There are exactly 4 black belt ladies signed up – there were just three a few days ago so I am very glad to have seen another jump on board!

The Black Belt Breakdown

Six prizes totaling $20,000 spread across four weight classes is allocated for the men, and one open division prize of $1,500 is offered for the ladies. If you look at the registration list and do some fun division, you can see the value of each person in each cash division if the winners hypothetically decided to share the prize money equally among all the competitors in their division:

Black Belt Male Feather Weight:

8 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/8 Competitors = $625/Competitor

Black Belt Male Middle Weight:

6 Competitors – Two cash Prizes = $5,000
$5,000/6 Competitors = $833.34/Competitor

Black Belt Male Heavy Weight:

6 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/6 Competitors = $833.34/Competitor

Black Belt Male Super Heavy Weight:

8 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/8 Competitors = $625/Competitor

Black Belt Female Open Weight Class

4 Competitors – One cash prize = $1,500
$1,500/4 Competitors = $375/Competitor

What Does It Mean?

There are enough black belt ladies now to have a good turn out at one of these pro competitions. However, why would any of them ever want to sign up for and travel to an event when they can wait for the event within driving distance of home? The mens division prizes are definitely much more likely to incite someone to travel from the opposite coastline, and even internationally.

Rough cost break down per competitor who would travel to an event:

Plane ticket: $300

Hotel for two nights: $150

Rental Car: $50

Registration Fees: $130

Food and incidentals: $50

So that is roughly $680 out of pocket, before even stepping on the competition mat. Not counting possible lost income from having to be away from work, paying for childcare, etc. If I was choosing between traveling for the chance at $1,500 – fighting in an open weight division, I would definitely hesitate – especially if I had the option of other events within driving distance.

Competing in a weight class, even for a reduced prize money amount would be much more enticing to the female competitor. The IBJJF stipulates that there must be 4 competitors registered for a division in order for any cash prizes to be awarded, so if they happen to have a poor turn out, they still have that option to fall back on.

I would wager that weight class prizes, even if they just split the open weight class into two divisions, would make these events look MUCH more enticing to a female competitor who is planning out her competition schedule for the year.

Here are some more numbers I put together for the event.

One lady next saturday will win 2 matches, and go home with 1,500.

Four men next saturday will win 2-3 matches, and go home with 1,000 each.

Four men next saturday will win 3-4 matches, and go home with 5,000 each.

My Conclusion:

I didn’t even cover the colored belt divisions for the men and women. I’m kind of whatever about that, but the black belt ladies have put in their time and deserve a better opportunity.

I’m not angry and feeling the need to boycott the event. It is just a four hour driving distance from Nashville, I get good matches, and is worth it for me to make the trip to compete. Plus my entry fee feeds the machine and will help to get the coffers full enough that the organization will feel it can start offering better cash prizes for the ladies.

I would like to see them do an experiment for just one pro event: offering an equal cash prize for the ladies and the men. If it flopped, it would shut up all the people nagging them. If it did well, they would know that it could work. I for one would definitely make a point of traveling to support that competition.

I’m excited at how the ladies divisions have been growing in the past few years and look forward to the future! It will take time – but things have been changing a lot, even since I started training. It is all thanks to the ladies who have paved the road before us and we owe them big time!

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