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Sports and Health

Equal Pay and Sports

Not everyone is paid the same

WHAT IT IS

  • Women and men are historically not paid equally, especially in sports. [Time]

  • This is called a "gender gap."

  • About 17% of sports reward men and women different amounts of prize money; 83% reward equally. [Alijazeera]

  • The sporting community is making progress toward equal pay but at a “glacial” pace. [BBC]

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  • Of the 100 highest-paid athletes ranked by Forbes in 2017, there was only 1 woman listed. [Forbes]

  • Serena Williams is ranked 51 of 100.

  • Williams' income is about $66 million lower than the top earner, Cristiano Ronaldo. [BBC]

  • Sponsorships and endorsements play a major role in these differences. [The Atlantic]

  • Forbes 2018 list includes no female representation.

WHY IT MATTERS

 

Tennis legend Billie Jean King began this fight in the 1970s. Why is it still an issue almost 50 years later?

WORST OFFENDERS

Football (soccer)

Women's soccer is arguably more popular in the U.S. than men's. Yet for winning the 2015 World Cup, the female team earned $2 million; the male winners earned $35 million. [BBC]

 

 

Golf

The USGA has a long history of pay inequality.

 

In 2015, Lydia Ko won the LPGA's ANA Inspiration and received $390,000. That same year, Jordan Spieth earned $1.8 million for winning the PGA's Masters. [ESPN]

 

 

Basketball

WNBA highest paid player, the "Michael Jordan of the WNBA" makes less money than an NBA player from 1999. [Forbes]

BUT WHY?

Deep roots

Society long viewed physical training to be only for men. [The Atlantic]  

 

The first male professional sports team formed in 1869 (Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball), while the first women's professional sports team was formed in 1936 (The All American Red Heads Team, basketball). 

 

Father of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, described women’s sport as an “unaesthetic sight”. [Huffington Post] It took until 2012 London games to have at least 1 female athlete represented in every country. [BBC]

 

 

Media coverage

Media coverage of a sporting event or tournament often increases a player's winnings [The Washington Post]. There is less coverage of women's sports on TV news today than there was in 1989. [USC]

 

 

Starting in school

Some believe support women in sports starts with supporting young girls engaging in sports at school.

 

Women's Sports Foundation found teenage girls drop out of sports twice as likely as boys their age. [Women's Sports Foundation]

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • Sportswomen are more than ever standing up for themselves. For example, U.S. women’s hockey team boycotted international play for fair wages and won the fight. [Time]

  • Evidence suggests women are receiving more media coverage, thanks to social media. [UMN]

  • Serena Williams and sister Venus Williams joined Billie Jean King in the fight for equal pay for women in sports. [CBS News]

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Billie Jean King began her fight for equal pay in 1973. [PBS]

  • Read more about the historical male vs. female tennis match, where Billie Jean King beat male rival, Bobby Riggs.

  • Has the #metoo movement impacted the equal pay fight?

  • Why are women not being offered more money for sponsorships?

  • Read about the U.N.'s commitment to equality in sports.

Key Vocabulary