Many of our readers will be very familiar with John Evans. One of our sport’s most well-known commentators, Evans started interpreting jiu-jitsu matches 7 years ago, through his YouTube channel – BJJ Breakdown, where he first gained notoriety. John has since worked on numerous grappling broadcasters, including FloGrappling, in big events such as the IBJJF World and Pan American Championships, UAEJJF Grand Slam, ADCC, F2W as well as the Spyder Invitational.
Although not his main source of income, commenting is a big part of Evans’ life. As such, when contacted by Spyder Korea on May 18, 2020, to work on their upcoming tournament, John took it seriously. Set for early to mid-July (the tournament eventually took place on July 18th), the acceptance of the task at hand meant some serious logistic arrangements for the American: “I was told that I would need to quarantine for 2 weeks upon arrival in Korea, plus an additional 4+ days of work in Korea after my release from quarantine,” John explained to BJJ Heroes in August 2020.
This was not Evan’s first time working with the well-respected sports brand in its most recent investment in jiu-jitsu events, in fact, this latest job request would have been the 5th time the two parties collaborated: “Over the years I had no reason to worry, for fear that Spyder Korea might not be trustworthy, or would be reckless with matters concerning my well being; their word was their bond, and there had never been a lack of follow-through. They are based in Seoul, Korea, and not many of the employees are fluent in English.”
From the time John was informed of the job up until the supposed departure of his flight, there was a little over a month to work with. This allowed Evans time to prepare for the 3 weeks he would be away, two of those locked inside a hotel room with no outside contact allowed: “Many things had to happen for me to be able to make this a successful trip: I had to quit the job I was working at the time, knowing that it would most likely no longer exist upon my return; I had to invest in a laptop so as to make the 2 weeks of quarantine time at least somewhat productive (…) I also was forced to turn down other job opportunities that had conflicting times with my scheduled travel to Korea. I agreed to a lower pay rate than normal despite being unpaid for my time in quarantine, which should’ve made my rate much higher, if anything; but ultimately I understood that times are tough for everyone right now (…) and I did want to help out the company that I had worked with so many times before. I was ok with accepting lower pay for this particular job.”
In the week that preceded the event, John says he jumped through hoops to make arrangements for the extended stay in SK: “I needed to get some last-minute work done on a side project I was involved in, so I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and rented a hotel for a few days so I could finish work on said project. If I hadn’t been in such a time crunch due to leaving for Korea soon, I would’ve never needed to travel out to Vegas as I did.” and it was while in Vegas, with a few days left for his flight to Korea that John received the devastating news “I was contacted by Spyder and told that they had decided last minute to cancel my trip and instead were just going to give the stream to FloGrappling. I pleaded with my contact at Spyder to reconsider and explained what a detriment this late cancelation would be to me due to all of the sacrifices I had to make in order to accept this job in the first place. My contact at Spyder was sympathetic, but said the decision had been made, and there was nothing that could be done.”
Given the current climate, with the COVID19 crises still very much alive, the consequences of this decision by the South Korean company were truly felt by John, who stated that “none of this would’ve been so horrible had it not been for the pandemic. I would’ve not had to commit to 2 weeks of quarantine, nor quit the job I had in order to accept this work with Spyder. Sadly we are in the midst of a global epidemic, and at the end of the day, I lost the money from the job that I had agreed to take, as well as thousands in personal expenses spent in preparation for the extended time in quarantine that was required. This doesn’t take into account the money lost from the job I had to quit, which I lost permanently as a result“, Evans explained, going on to say “I’ve worked for Arny, the head of Spyder Korea, many times, and have even trained with him at the Spyder HQ training center, and it’s hard for me to imagine him approving the mistreatment of someone that has been so loyal to their company in the past.”
During his final comments over the ordeal, Evans stated: “It is my hope that this was decided at a level just prior to the owner, and Arny had no knowledge of the transgression, but I’ve also heard mutterings of low employee morale, and high turnover in the company lately, so this might have just been a standard business practice for Spyder Korea in their current state. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s also ruined our working relationship moving forward.”
BJJ Heroes attempted to contact Spyder Korea regarding the comments made by John Evans but, as of yet, has not received a reply from the company.
John Evans Instagram: @bjjbreakdown