Tennis Australia is under fire for not paying ballkids

Controversy erupted at the Australian Open earlier in the week when fans discovered children were not being paid for their services.

About 2,500 children apply for the ball each year, and less than one in five of them actually succeed.

Those who make the cut will then work under rigorous conditions and under the harsh weather conditions Melbourne causes in January.

Social media users were stunned to discover that instead of receiving monetary compensation, young people are instead given freebies and actively working towards the love of the game and the experience that comes with it.

But calls continue to grow for the Australian Open to open up its vast purse and pony to the children who sometimes solicit the wrath of angry stars.

Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, with Canadian Denis Shapavalov, and the 2023 Australian Open, on January 8, 2023.
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Prior to the start of the tournament, it was announced that the prize pool on display for the world’s best players was the largest ever at Down Under.

A whopping $52.7 million prize pool was on the table for participants, up 3.4 percent from 2022.

In comparison to the Australian Open, ballplayers who work at the US Open earn $15 per hour while at Wimbledon they earn a flat rate of $242 per week.

Journalist Justin Smith led his voice in calling for change and for the Australian Open to go back to 2008 when it was pushed ahead of being reclassified.

“Are we in a Dickens novel or something? Come on. Pay the kids,” Smith said on Channel Seven.

“I’m shocked they haven’t been paid. I think it devalues ​​them horribly. They should start moving out as soon as possible… I really do, it devalues ​​them.”

Denis Shapovalov and the 2023 Australian Open Soccer Championship.
Denis Shapovalov and the 2023 Australian Open, on January 8, 2023.
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Presenter Amanda Rose added, “Basically, I think it makes kids at an early age worth more experience than paying them. For girls especially, I think it’s really important to say, ‘No, (we) deserve this money…it’s Not a charity event.

“You don’t want them to go get a job in their 20s and tell them it’s for the experience, and they don’t get paid. So they should get paid.”

The controversial issue was highlighted on Reddit with users divided on the matter with many believing it to be nothing short of exploitation.

“How is this not child exploitation?” one user asked.

Another said, “It’s not unreasonable to suggest that kids get paid for their time.”

“It’s the sports version of artists who get paid to appear.”

Ballkids wipe the rain off the court at the 2020 Australian Open on January 31, 2020.
Ballkids wipe the rain off the court at the 2020 Australian Open on January 31, 2020.
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However, not everyone thinks it is a big deal.

One Reddit user said in response to the thread: “Volunteering can be problematic when there is implied pressure or compulsion to perform work voluntarily, resulting in a profit for an organization in which the individual cannot participate.”

“There is no implied pressure on ballkids to work for free.”

“No one needs to be an Australian Open footballer for exposure or professional purposes.”

“The kids are taking a chance because it’s a great opportunity – there’s no exploitation here, move on.”

Another user said “Kids are crazy about tennis – (they) love to experiment.”

The merchandise accessed by the children was also a central point in many of the responses, with one saying: “They could keep a lot of great things that the organizers of the Australian Open have given them – calling this child’s exploitation an affront to the real exploitation that is happening out there.”

Maybe focus on that first.

The Ballkids were in the center of attention early in this year’s tournament, as Rafael Nadal accidentally lost a racket to a ballkick that he was using to tackle.

“I need the back of the racket,” said Nadal, “and the poi takes the racket.”

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