“Equal Pay For Equal Play”
If you keep up with the news, then you have probably seen or heard this mantra more than once. However, if you’re not familiar with current trends, this slogan is synonymous with equal pay for male and female athletes. And, although it is a broad term for a global issue, it has been most heavily used with United States national soccer teams. But, what if instead of focusing on the negatives in the gender compensation equality argument, we looked at the positives. What if I told you that tennis is leading the way for equal pay among male and female athletes?
Why Does Tennis Matter For Gender Equality?
Unlike team sports, individual sports, including tennis, only pay athletes based on their performance in tournaments and competitions. Disregarding sponsorships, both male and female tennis players make their money based on where they finish in tournaments. In addition to this, tennis tournaments generally have a men’s and women’s competition at the same time. Consequently, this makes tennis a great sport for an equal pay case study. This is because regardless of gender, men and women should be paid the same to perform the same (well, sort of). So, it is a relatively accurate comparison between men’s and women’s prize pots and one that deserves a little spotlight.
Show Me The Money
To begin, in every Grand Slam tournament (the biggest tournaments in tennis), both the men’s and women’s winner gets the exact same prize pot. Not only is that an amazing step in the right direction, but possibly an overstep. On the contrary, although I believe athletes should be compensated equally regardless of their gender, male tennis players do “earn” their money a little more. In fact, not only do they play longer matches, but they also attract larger crowds and produce more revenue than their female counterparts. For example, a center court debenture seat, the best possible seat Wimbledon, cost $1,445 for the ladies’ final in 2020. The equivalent ticket for the men’s final cost $4,532, more than 3x the women’s. Clearly, tennis has not only equaled the pay for men and women but also provided this despite equal revenue.
What Does This Mean For Sports?
Now that tennis has shown that both genders can be paid equally despite their revenue, how should other sports respond? To be honest, I don’t think other sports need to respond or change what they are doing. I am a firm believer that how well you do something should determine how much you are paid. In the case of sports, it is an entertainment business and how well you are doing isn’t necessarily calculated through match stats, but rather through revenue. For almost every sport, men bring in more revenue and that is just the truth of the matter. Still, one-day women’s sports might outperform men’s in terms of revenue. Once that day comes, how will the world react? Will women get their fair share of the money? I think so. Maybe I’m naive or I see too much good in the world, but deep down I know that when the right decisions have to be made we will make them.
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