Fans are outraged to discover that Australian Open ball kids are NOT being paid – despite working in scorching heat and being hit at 200mph serve: ‘How is this not child exploitation?’
- Social media erupts after discovering that ballkids work for free
- Tennis fans say being a ballkid in Melbourne Park is child exploitation
- Others claim it’s a great experience for diehard tennis fans
- Ballkids are strictly disciplined and work in extreme heat during the event
Ball kids at the Australian Open face sweltering heat, player tantrums and the chance of getting hit by tennis balls flying at over 200mph – but none of them get paid a dime.
Social media erupted this week with the revelation that Melbourne Park’s youngest staff are all volunteers, with some fans believing it is child exploitation.
Ballkids at the Australian Open face sweltering heat, player tantrums and the chance of getting hit by tennis balls flying at over 200mph – but none of them get paid a dime
Social media erupted this week with the revelation that prom kids at Melbourne Park are all volunteers, and some fans thought the practice was child exploitation
The silent stars of the event, who undergo a year-long selection process and intensive training, have one of the toughest performances in Australia in January – and some people think they should be paid.
“How is this not child exploitation?” commented one Reddit user.
“Disgusting, I wonder how they get away with this. How is it legal?’ said another.
Ball kids at Wimbledon and the US Open are paid for their vital work, and the Australian Open did as well until 2008 when the kids were reclassified as volunteers.
Most of the young people who do the demanding work are die-hard tennis fans and enjoy working close to their sporting heroes.
Most of the youngsters who do the demanding work are diehard tennis fans and enjoy working near their sports heroes (Andy Murray took a selfie with ballkids in 2016).
Melbourne Park ball kids will receive a meal allowance, prize packages and may keep their tournament uniform.
Many people think it’s a great opportunity for kids and have no problem with them working for free.
“It would be child exploitation if they were paid — they’re too young to work,” said one Reddit user.
“It’s kids who are passionate about tennis and who get the chance to see how the best players in the world do it. It’s a great initiative and it’s a shame more tournaments don’t do the same.’
“My son would pay to have the chance to be a ballboy at AO,” said another.
Nadal (pictured) apologized to the boy for hitting her with a tennis ball and described the moment as “one of the scariest moments” he’d had on a tennis court
“I was a prom kid in the early 2000s and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done, I didn’t make a dime but I got heaps of free sex, food and made some great friends,” said one third.
The job comes with risks, which a kid found out in 2020 when Rafael Nadal accidentally shot her in the head with a backfire.
Nadal apologized to the boy with a kiss on the cheek, describing the moment as “one of the scariest moments” he’d had on a tennis court.
At this year’s event, Nadal became clearly agitated during his first-round match when he discovered that a ballkid had taken one of his rackets. Nadal is known for his unusual mannerisms during tennis matches, including ordering his water bottles and tennis rackets.
Nick Kyrgios had to apologize last year after a racket he threw in a fit of rage after a loss almost hit a nearby ball boy.
The Aussie apologized on social media, sharing screenshots of a text exchange with the boy and promising to make a racket for him.