People in the United States and around the world are watching athletes’ performance in various sports. Both male and female athletes compete at an incredible level that requires physical fitness and drive. As we all know, professional athletes can earn salaries reflecting their talent and ability. After the Woman’s World Cup in football there was a surge of newfound fame that happened to Women’s sports, at least in woman’s football opening the debate should women athletes be paid the same as male athletes in sports. Players from the US women’s national team have went as far as to file a federal class action lawsuit seeking equal pay to their male counterparts.
Some athletes feel women and men who play the same sport should be paid the same, including captain of the American national team Megan Rapinoe who said “I think it’s fair for us to ask that when we play a game, and we win that game or we tie that game or we lose that game, that we should be paid the same as our male counterparts. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic or unreasonable ask, to have equality.” Whereas some feel they shouldn’t, including current rank 1 singles Tennis player Rafael Nadal who said “Female models earn more than male models, and nobody says anything. Why? Because they have a larger following. In tennis too, who gathers a larger audience earns more.” It is a simple fact that men’s sports, for the most part, bring in more revenue. In the eight FIFA World Cup tournaments held on the women’s side, the U.S. women’s team has won four and came in second or third place in the others, and on the men’s side there have been 21 FIFA World Cup tournaments, but the U.S. men’s team did not qualify for about half the tournaments, and the highest they placed was third which was all the way back in 1930. This shows that at a worldwide level the women have a better chance of placing in a higher position than men. When the Wall Street Journal examined the federation’s financial reports, it showed that the U.S. women’s soccer games earned more than the men’s games, in total, during the three years after the women’s team won the World Cup in 2015. especially, from 2016-18, the women’s team brought in $50.8 million in revenue, whereas the men’s team brought in $49.9 million. That’s a difference of less than 2% in the women’s favour, this shows that though it may be a slight difference the women’s National Team are bringing in more revenue outside of the world cup. But that is just women’s football what about the WBNA? It is currently estimated that the WNBA generates approximately $60 million in revenue, while $12.3 million of that revenue is given to its players, that’s about 20% of the league revenue. Whereas the NBA made $7.4 billion in revenue and 53% of the league revenue is guaranteed to go to the players under the 1983 agreement to cap payrolls.
Although women’s sport is starting to gather more media coverage, it could be argued that it is not reaching far enough, but is this the case? In terms of the women’s world cup the peak viewership in America for the 2019 women’s final was 14.3 million compared to the men’s world cup final which peaked at 11.4 million viewers, a 22% US viewership boost. Although you also have to take into account that the men’s US team were not actually playing in the final of the Men’s World Cup. For the WNBA the average viewership in 2018 was 231,000 and the average game attendance was 6768 compared to the NBA which averages 1.28 million viewers and 18,000 in attendance. Although it could be said the WNBA does not get as much viewers as the NBA due to its lack of worldwide coverage, the NBA broadcasts to 96 different countries across 8 continents whereas the WBNA only broadcasts to 24 different countries. It could be said that if the WBNA got the same media coverage then they would also start pulling in more viewers that not much different to their male counterparts.
It is an obvious and non-deniable fact that women sports aren’t advertised or sponsored as much as their male counterparts, but why is this? Some sponsorship deals have been on the rise, which indicates that real change is happening and will continue to do so in the coming years. And, in the current political climate, it makes sense that this change would happen sooner rather than later. The bottom line is that the media needs to take more action to support women’s sport in order to encourage sponsors to invest in them. Although there is an abundance of woman athletes out there, there is a serious lack of representation of these women and their sports in the media. Popularity for woman’s sports among fans is increasing at an incredible rate. For example, the 5,000 tickets appointed to the Wales vs. England game for the Women’s Football World Cup on 31 August 2019 sold out in just 24 hours. In addition, The Football Association announced that it is likely to double the number of players and fans by 2020. Despite the clear evidence that women’s sport is prospering in terms of success and popularity, it only gathers a disappointing 1% of the sponsorship market. According to research conducted by Nielsen, just 3% of print and 4% of online coverage goes to women’s only sport and less than 20% of all TV sport covers women only or mixed sports.
Are men and women equal in terms of skill? It is an opinion-based question and it depends on who you ask. The majority of woman will probably say they are equal or better and men will most likely say they are better due to strength, speed, height etc. But there are cases of men being better than woman in sport. For example, the world cup winners USWNT were dealt an embarrassing blow from the Dallas under 15s boys’ team when they were beat 5-2. Also a powerlifter named Jaycee Cooper set a new state record in Bench, becoming state champion, and winning best overall lifter. This was in the women’s division at the USPA Minnesota State Championships. Cooper, who was born male, but now identifies as a woman, lifted 57.5kg more than the closest female competitor. At the 2016 Olympics the fastest competitor in the men’s 100 metre dash was Usain Bolt with a time of 9.81 seconds and the time for the fastest competitor in the women’s 100 metre dash was Elaine Thompson with a time of 10.71 seconds. The women’s world record for the 100-metre dash is 10.49 seconds this was set in 1988 by Florence Griffith Joyner and hasn’t been beaten since, whereas the world record for the men’s 100 metre dash is 9.58 seconds which was set in 2009 by Usain Bolt
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In conclusion women shouldn’t get equal pay in sports just yet. If you are just looking in terms of the American women’s national team then many would say yes to equal pay, but you also have to take into account other sports. The revenue in other sports are too great a difference, worldwide coverage doesn’t have as far as a reach as men’s do, lack of representation in sponsorships and difference in physical capabilities. If women get all these things, then equal pay will be within their grasp but until then they will be fighting a losing battle.