It’s that time of year again. You know, the time where cricket people complain about the field at Kensington. Then we inevitably argue for equal pay in sports.
As if on cue, No.1 draft pick A’ja Wilson just called out the big pay gap between the WNBA and the NBA after marvelling at LeBron’s spanking new four-year, US$153 million deal with the Lakers.
And that was only a day before Charlotte Clymer took to Twitter to complain that the losing quarterfinalists at this World Cup will receive eight times more prize money than the actual champions of the women’s 2015 equivalent.
Yeah, that really does sound rough.
But before I’m wrongfully labelled a chauvinist pig let me quickly say I truly understand their plight because female athletes work just as hard as their male counterparts while having to make even more sacrifices.
Yet they’re misguided in thinking the discrepancy in pay comes down to sex or even skill.
No, it’s all simple maths and economics.
You see most athletes’ pay is not directly tied to performance but rather a percentage of the revenue they generate.
So while the optics of Clymer’s reveal initially look awful, the reality is that FIFA is expected to make US$6.1 billion from this World Cup as opposed to the “mere” $82 million generated from the 2015 women’s tourney.
To put it in simple layman’s terms, people pay to watch men’s sports but that isn’t particularly the case with the women.
I mean, everything comes to a standstill when World Cup games are on now, but do you think the average man watched a single second of the women’s equivalent three years ago?
Heck, I bet you didn’t even know it was played in Canada. You see now.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely sympathise with Wilson because her three-year deal is worth only an average of US$55 052 a year in contrast to the $7 million or so annually that Deandre Ayton is set to make as the No.1 pick in this year’s NBA draft class.
What makes it worse is that most WNBA stars, even the big ones like Diana Taurasi, go overseas and play in Europe during the year to make sure they have enough money to make a living.
But can you blame someone like Ayton?
At the end of the day he plays in a league that has a US$24 billion television rights deal with ESPN and TNT that brings in $2.6 billion annually.
And that has nothing to do with the NBA’s other corporate sponsors or even ticket sales, merchandising, memorabilia, marketing and other revenue streams.
Now compare that to a WNBA, whose yearly revenue was just USD$51.5 million last year and you start to get the picture.
To be fair though, there still seems to be a problem with paying female hoopsters, according to Forbes at least, because NBA players receive around 50 percent of the league’s basketball related income while their WNBA counterparts seem to get half of that.
That’s a real injustice.
But even if they were to get the same 50 per cent it wouldn’t be the same 50 per cent.
Half of $7.4 billion isn’t half of 51.5 million, after all.
Fans just don’t watch women’s sports. Well, not nearly as many as those who watch the men.
I can personally attest to this, too, as I found out that you could’ve found a cheap ticket for the 2016 US Open women’s final under US$100 because Serena got knocked out in the semis.
Well that certainly wasn’t the case when Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka played a day later.
And it’s really not that hard to understand.
Look at it on the flip side where female models can make 30 times more than male ones because the women’s fashion clothing industry is worth about US$621 billion worldwide compared with $400 billion for the men’s.
As such, then top model Sean O’Pry earned a meagre US$1.5 million in 2013 while Gisele Bundchen grossed $42 million for that same year.
How could you expect to pay him a higher salary if he’s generating less income?
Until we understand that very simple concept, we’ll be back here again this same time next year.
But I guess that’s better than complaining about a field at Kensington. (JM)