Gender Equity In Sport

by Leanne W.

Gender equity in a sporting environment is resources, programs and decision-making being fair to both male and female genders and also identifies any imbalances in the benefits they receive. Sport is an area that we see many issues with gender inequity. The gender pay gap is seen heavily in sports among other areas. Female athletes are often paid way less than their male counterparts when participating in the same sport. This requires many female athletes to also try and balance full or part time jobs while they also have vigorous training schedules and family lives as well.

Basketball is a increasingly popular sport in North America. Players in the WNBA get paid way less than NBA players no matter what experience or skill level. The highest paid player in the WNBA still makes less than the lowest paid player in the NBA by thousands of dollars. In 2015 the US women’s soccer team just won a gold medal at the world cup and received only 2 million dollars compared the men’s team who came in 16th place and received 9 million. At major sporting events such as tennis tournaments female events often have lower paying prize money for the winners often the price differing by as much as thousands of dollars. Female athletes are fighting for change, as they deserve to make the same amount of money for playing the exact same sport in the exact same event. Although we have seen small changes to increase the amount of money female athletes make, we still have a long way to go until both genders are making equal amounts.

Another area of sport where we see gender inequity is sports media coverage. The Olympics is one of the only international events where we see women’s events advertised and broadcasted just as much as the men’s events. On regular sport broadcasting stations such as ESPN, less than 1 percent of all coverage is coverage of female sport, and we do not see female analysts only female reporters who are often very pretty. When turning on the TV casually and turning to the sports channels, you will never stumble upon a women’s event by accident it will always be male events as female events are not played at prime television hours. They are often played mid-afternoon during the weekdays when most individuals are still at work or early on weekend mornings when most people would still be asleep.

In 2018 the first female college gymnastics meet was televised on the ESPN network showing UCLA competing against University of Kentucky. These are the two top rated college gymnastics teams in the United States. Although ESPN broadcasted the event, it was broadcasted mid-afternoon and it was not properly advertised so it had a low viewer rating. Male college sports are a huge part of sporting coverage and have been broadcasted for years. The most common sports to see televised are national leagues such as the NFL, NHL, MLB and many others. This leads many to wonder if women’s sports even have national leagues as we never have the opportunity to view them

The gender inequities in sport lead to young girls not having proper role models in sports and this is a main factor that we see adolescent girls dropping out of sport at young ages. If our sporting systems had equal pay and equal coverage, we would see a boom in female grass root and competitive participation for girls of all ages as these young girls could see female athletes succeeding and develop positive role models in sport. Currently, young girls are not encouraged as heavily as their male counter parts to participate in sport, as being a female athlete is not currently a viable career path due to the wage gap. Many families believe sport is not important for young girls as they are most likely unfamiliar with female sport themselves, as they are not often exposed to it. If a young girl or her parents believes she cannot make a future out of something she loves, the likelihood of her continuing is very slim and she will shift her focus towards activities that are more beneficial for her future.

References:

https://inequality.org/great-divide/gender-pay-gap-athletes/

https://sportsmanagement.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/a-look-at-male-and-female-professional-athlete-salaries/

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US Women’s Hockey – Aiming for Gold

By Cole M.

Almost a year after the United States Women’s Ice Hockey team won their case for annual salaries against Hockey USA with the threat of a boycott at the World Championships, they are search for a gold medal in PyeongChang. The Women’s national team also received parity with the men’s team on travel stipends, accommodations, per diems and disability insurance. Prior to the new settlement with USA Hockey, the women were awarded $6000 annually every Olympiad (4 years) along with travel expenses. USA Women’s National Team members will now receive close to 70,000$ annually along with all the same benefits and insurance as the men’s team (Angell & Raphael, 2017).

The next generation of Women’s Team USA can thank the current members of the team for the headway they made and road they paved. Not only will they benefit from annual salaries, allowing them to train full time without the distraction of employment or financial burden, they have also created an optimal training and developmental pathway. The new gender equity deal also aims at more publicity and marketing for the women’s program along with developmental camps and teams for women starting at younger ages, similar to men’s programs (Larkin, 2015).

With annual salaries, a bigger travel budget, better marketing and publicity what barriers are there to stop this juggernaut from capturing gold at PyeongChang? With three straight gold medals at the ¾ Nations Cup and four straight gold’s World Championships, the only gold drought the American’s are in, is at the Olympics.

Since their inception in 2008 the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) have been the home for most Canadian and American Olympians with the exception of some of the younger players still playing NCAA Division 1 in he United States. As a relatively new league, the NWHL it has had its ups and downs and in 2015 raised the league salary cap to $270,000 per team. This equals out to an average of $15 000 per player on an 18-player roster (Larkin, 2015). Facing financial difficulties in 2017, the NWHL was forced to reduce salaries, while the CWHL finally implemented pay to their players with a salary cap of $100,000 per team which equals out to $2000-10,000 per player (Sportsnet,2017).

While the top players (NWHL), which tend to be Olympians, have salaries up to $25 000 this is still not a sustainable living salary, especially to those training for the Olympics. But in perspective, the women who play on the American National Olympic Team will earn $70,000 from Hockey USA along with their salaries from their NWHL which would leave most players earning in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 before endorsements and royalties from jersey sales (Larkin, 2015).

While an Olympic Gold is about the only International medal these American women don’t have in their trophy case at this moment, the wait shouldn’t be long. With their only real competition coming from the Canadians north of the boarder that have fended off four straight Olympic Gold medals, the new annual salaries may be the key to defeating the Canadians. What these annual salaries have done for the American women is allowed them to focus all their time needed to train and practice for competition while eliminating the previous barriers of cost and employment.

Their status of being on the National team is considered their employment and allowed them to focus all their time needed on hockey or training for national events including the Olympics. While the Canadian women still hold on to their four consecutive Olympic Gold medals, those who play in the CWHL are not given respectable annual salaries and have to find employment elsewhere in order to put a roof over their heads, feed their families and all the while still trying to find the time needed to train and keep their status as an Olympic athlete.

This pay gap between the American and Canadian women has pushed the American’s into a professional athlete culture similar to the National Hockey League (NHL) and it’s players. While there is still a large monetary gap between NHL and the American women, their training routines, specialized programs, training facilities have allowed them to commit or dedicate all the necessary time needed to prepare for international competition while removing the previous barriers.

Almost a year after the American women have received annual salaries, many Americans are looking for and expecting a gold medal from their nation’s women. With the gold medal game set for February 22nd, the US Women’s team has set their goal of hearing their National anthem sung that day with a gold medal around their necks.

References

Larkin, Matt, (September, 2015). And The Highest Payed Player In Women’s Hockey Is. The Hockey News. Retrieved from http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/and-the-highest-paid-player-in-womens-hockey-is.

Sportsnet Staff, (September, 2017). CWHL Announces It Will Pay It’s Players In 2017-18. Sportsnet. Retrieved From http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/cwhl-announces-will-pay-players-2017-18.

Angell, I, & Raphael, T.J. (March, 2017). The US National Women’s Team Went After Equal Pay And Fair Treatment – And Won. PRI Sports. Retrieved from https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-30/us-womens-national-hockey-team-went-after-equal-pay-and-fair-treatment-and-won.

“Equal pay is as much a myth as it is a minefield” – Why is equal pay in Tennis such an issue in our modern day society?

By Callum F.

Equal pay in general has been an issue for years, and it will most likely still be an ongoing debate for many more due to the current political environment. However, equal pay in sport is also a big issue that is being pushed more and more to the fore, with tennis being the ‘leading light’ in this situation.

For years, influential female tennis players such as Billy Jean King, Chris Evert and Serena Williams have made claims that women are entitled to just as much prize money as the men are, as they are playing the same sport, and doing exactly the same thing, and in the four Grand Slams at least, at the same tournament time. Therefore, equal pay surely makes perfect sense. Serena Williams is just as capable as Roger Federer at hitting a ball over a net, so why is it such an issue? 

The main problems preventing equal pay are revenue, media exposure and the inter-relationship between them and the limitations surrounding them. Godoy-Pressland and Griggs (2014) argue that; ‘The relative exclusion of women’s sport in the media serves to frame women’s sport as less important than men’s’. Media exposure and the perception that creates drives popularity which drives revenue and thus this relative exclusion then results in women’s sport’s inability to earn equal revenue, both from tickets – numbers and prices – and from sponsorships, as men’s sport and therefore pay equal amounts to the competitors. If the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) paid equal prize money as the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) across 12 months, they would be bankrupt within a couple of years, simply due to the relative lack of revenue that the WTA brings in from advertising, sponsorship and the media compared to the ATP. As well as the higher profile that the men’s game has traditionally enjoyed over the women’s, there is also a much higher level of competition at the top of the  men’s game, contesting titles and the top ranking places, than in the women’s. This also drives the level of income generated.  Sport has become more of a business than ever before, so the income/expenditure ratio is key and currently, the men’s game is far more valuable than the women’s, so higher levels of expenditure are possible meaning ultimately that the men get paid more. 

While this argument has been going since the 1960’s, it has become one of the biggest topics in tennis, even more so in the past couple of years. Raymond Moore, (former CEO of the tournament Indian Wells) was the man to instigate this recent debate, when he was quoted as saying ‘If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport.’ and how ‘the women ride off the coattails of men’ . While both remarks were wildly inappropriate and resulted in Moore’s immediate resignation, it sparked a large debate amongst the players themselves, something which hadn’t been seen since the 60’s. 

The majority of the top male players were all in agreement that the women should receive equal pay, simply because they do the same job. Sir Andy Murray was one of these, openly stating that he was a feminist and fully supported equal pay. However, his long term rival Novak Djokovic voiced that women shouldn’t be paid as much due to the revenue income. This in itself sparked another debate, why does the male’s opinion on this matter so much? Surely the women’s arguments should be heard more, as they are in fact women! 

Sherry (2015) writes that ‘Women’s sport continues to be viewed through the prism of male hegemony in various ways’. The fact that it is taking the men’s opinion on the tour to start making a difference supports Sherry strongly. Why does it still take a male opinion to cause a debate, especially in the ‘modernised society’ that we live in. It points towards a case that the male opinion in sport, and seemingly business is still more important than the women’s, but perversely it may be that very opinion that will finally get women equal pay in tennis.

To conclude, equal pay in tennis has to become a reality sooner rather than later, as there is no strong argument as to why it should not happen. Both bring in the spectators, and both bring in millions of dollars in revenue, so why shouldn’t it be shared equally? While it is realistic in theory, the reality of the situation is that equal pay will not happen unless the ‘sport’ of Tennis becomes less of a business, focusing on how much money can be made and where, and simply reverts to being a sport to entertain. Until that happens, the argument surrounding equal pay will become even more ridiculous and further out-dated. 

Sherry, E., Osborne, A., & Nicholson, M. (2015). Images of Sports Women: A Review. Sex Roles, 15.

Godoy-Pressland, A., & Griggs, G. (2014). The photographic representation of female athletes in the British print media during the London 2012 Olympic games. Sport in Society, 17, 1–16