Raducanu rise not all about the money

Emma Raducanu has already earned many dollar bills

And so another star is born. The Emma Raducanu rise has, like others before her, been followed by stories about how much money she could go on to make, but do readers really still care?

Raducanu’s stunning US Open tennis win as a qualifier earned her a tasty $2.5m (£1.8m) prize. But that will not stop the money stories coming.

It has already started and will no doubt accompany her as she moves through her career. Before you know it, Google Autocomplete will be racking up the ‘Emma Raducanu net worth’ searches.

The obsession with money and what people earn has long been used as a ploy to divide and enrage readers. It’s a tried and trusted, formulaic way of detailing what success looks like to the ‘common man or woman’. After all, how can we mere common folk understand the gravity of these successes without it?

The Raducanu rise to public prominence began with her surprise run to the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier in 2021. Now firmly on the tennis map, victory has propelled her from 345th to 23rd in the tennis rankings.

‘Marketing dream’

Her achievements in the States are leading many to tip her for a continued spell of greatness at the top of the women’s game. Alongside this comes the money.

I’ll bet (not money) most of us don’t head into work knowing how much our colleagues are earning and being British you likely wouldn’t even ask in the first place. But this doesn’t stop the media world from speculating about ‘mind-boggling’ numbers, while telling us ‘Emma is a marketer’s dream’.

We’re reminded that ‘everyone will want a piece of her now’. Indeed, what is it about sporting success that prompts an ad exec somewhere to think: “Yeah, she could help us sell our vegan-friendly, climate-protecting, energy-revitalising branded bowl of dogfood?”

Of course, money mania isn’t just a UK trend. Across the pond, sports earnings have always been a big draw for audiences. As Time Magazine notes, from Babe Ruth’s early $80,000 a year to Alex Rodriguez’s $33m, the numbers create issues all the way down to youth levels.

Here, sporting triumphs are heightened, as there are not as many (particularly in tennis) and we’re a small country. It is the same after every British success story.

Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray, the list goes on. I realise this piece could be considered as fuelling the trend – a money story about a continuing story of money.

But when you reach a certain level of elite, money must really become a by-product of sporting achievement. And I’d argue reading about it doesn’t matter to most sports readers now.

Premier cash flow

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this type of story remains widespread in football. Despite coming up to 30 years of Premier League football, cash is king on the sports pages.

After you’ve read about hundreds of footballers earning the obligatory ‘grotesque sum’ for learning to operate his pen and sign on a dotted line, subsequent ones have less effect.

Cash-angled stories like Jack Grealish’s £100m switch to Manchester City no longer carry the same weight they once did. Everyone in the Premier League is on daft money so using it as a backpage tool to get people to buy papers or read stories online is nonsense.

In terms of the Raducanu rise, winning the US Open title earned her a massive amount of cash. Cue the following morning’s stories about how much MORE she could earn. Surely there is limited interest with the knowledge she’s just banked a hefty sum already?

Maybe I’m old school but once you’ve cleared the match report, reaction, and pulled together all the messages from the Queen to old Ethel down the road, that’s enough.

I guess that’s part of the insatiable appetite we as an audience are supposed to have for consuming 24/7 news and sport.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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