Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Sports and payment of men and women

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Apparently, the U.S. women’s soccer players are crying wolf about earnings again.

I have dealt with similar problems in the past (e.g. in [1], [2]) and will not repeat those discussions.

However, another angle:

Let us try the following: Just like there are different soccer leagues for men and women, institute two different federations. For all I care, make every single decision maker in the women’s federation female.* Now let us see how much they earn or do not earn. They might earn more or they might earn less than today—which I do not know. But: They will be exposed to the realities of economy and the connection between creating value and receiving value, e.g. that the ticket revenue generated and the revenue from television rights will affect who is paid what.

*They could probably get away with this: If the men’s federation tried the same, it would likely land in court for illegal discrimination and definitely be publicly attacked.

Ditto in tennis: Separate the men’s and women’s majors into entirely separate tournaments, run by different entities. If the women’s entities want to pay the same prize money as the men’s, they may do so. If they want to pay twice as much, I have no objection. But: do not complain to me, should they do so and find themselves running out of money.

From another point of view: If we do consider it unfair that e.g. female soccer player’s earn less than male, why it is not considered unfair that players of different sports earn differently for the same level of success? Why should e.g. a multiple world champion in bandy earn less than many (most? all?) titleless NFL players? Why should tennis players earn more than e.g. racket-ball players?

Of course, we could* institute some global rule for all sports and both sexes that give everyone the same amount of money for comparable levels of success, regardless of e.g. ticket earnings: Soccer players would take a severe pay cut—even be they women. Ditto tennis players. Hope Solo, do you still want “fair” pay?

*Defining reasonable comparisons would take a lot of work and might require restructuring some sports, e.g. by scrapping the tennis majors in favor of a single world championship—but the global rule is a thought experiment, not a practical suggestion.

Written by michaeleriksson

October 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

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