You’re competing in a market honey

Had I been born with testicles, I’m pretty sure I’d be spared much humiliation when discussing my finances during my sporting career. I remember picking up my first winner’s cheque of €500 at a small competition in Ireland and thinking I had made it. Until I realised that men in the 100m at the same event received €2,000. It was a rude awakening.

Although many sports have moved into the 21st century and award equal prize money at major competitions, 30% of sports, including football, cricket and squash, refuse to move forward, as was highlighted this week in a study by the BBC.

It begs the question, do the governing bodies of these sports actually care about the women who choose to take part and represent the country? I don’t believe the (mainly) old boys do. When the men and women’s teams of Arsenal both won the FA Cup this year, the women were paid £5,000 as a team and the men received £1.8m. Why hasn’t anyone held up these governing bodies by the balls (pun intended) and demand that they put strategies in place to bridge sport’s embarrassing gender wage gap?

It has been argued that women’s sport isn’t as businesslike as men’s, that it doesn’t generate enough interest to justify equality on the pay scale. But this is because they refuse to give women’s sport the same platform.


How many people
watched the female FA Cup and how many the male? And where does the money come from? Quite, the number of people watching.

Further, men and women are actually competing in different sports. To demand equal pay is as crazed as insisting that the World Tiddlywinks champion should be paid the same as the World Heavyweight champion. They’re simply different things.

64 comments on “You’re competing in a market honey

  1. This is a great test case for whether advocates of “equality” actually mean it. Let the women compete in the same competition as the men. If they win, give them the money. Only fair.

  2. That’s how it works in motor racing. Jamie Chadwick and Esmee Hawkey compete against men (boys, really) in the Ginetta Junior championship, and usually beat some of them.

  3. I think it was Interested on here who pointed out that women’s top-flight rugby was at about the same standard as mid-level club rugby in the UK, i.e. hoof it to the full-back and hope he/she drops it.

    They might have a point about tennis, where the women’s game appears to be almost as popular as the men’s (although perhaps for reasons which the feminists might not like).

  4. The solution to the football problem is easy, but not the one she wants to hear: let the Arsenal women’s football team enter the FA Cup.

    Similarly let female golfers enter the golf tour qualification process, female make all squash tournaments open etc.

    In Bridge they have Open and Ladies events at major championships and most women prefer to play in the Ladies event. Sabine Auken, one of the top women who more than holds her own in Open tournaments says she prefers women’s events.

  5. I agree with her point about pay being based only on performance and not gender. Her best 100m is 11.14sec, mine is a smidge under 11. I never got a cent in prize money, so it is only fair all her winnings are given to me.

  6. In Tennis (Wimbledon for definite) it could be claimed that the women are paid better than the men… They win equal prize money, but the women only play best of three sets whereas the men have to play best of five.

    Therefore, at a minimum they have to work 50% longer (3:0 v 2:0) or maximum (3:2 v 2:1) 67% for the same money. So much for “equality” 🙂

  7. A somewhat tangential point:

    Why do we still tolerate single-sex team sports in this modern, equal world? My modest proposal is that all team sports should have equal numbers of men and women (as far as odd numbers of players allow).

    Teams would be free to decide for themselves how to arrange said teams. So, do you want a scrumful of men with your women on the wing? Or will you give up the scrum to allow your men to dominate the running play? Do you want a male batting line-up or will you go for very fast bowlers?

    Yes, we would need a radical rethink about player safety and contact. That may be no bad thing, actually.

    I understand there have already been some experiments with mixed swimming relays, with hilarious results. So it can work, with a bit of imagination. And, in any case, what are Fridays for if not trolling?

  8. I was briefly watching some women’s international basketball competition on the telly with my 16 year old twins (male).

    Oh, the commentators made the effort, cheering the triples etc etc but it was like watching schoolboy basketball. The physical effort, the technical skills, the plays, everything was just so ordinary. The rebounds (and there were a lot as their shooting was appalling) were a joke, defending was poor…

    Why the hell would anybody want to watch it? The crowd (a small one) seemed to be made up of friends and family and that is where that sport is at the moment. That is its reality.

    If nobody watches there is no money. Equality here is easy. Give the players the same margin of the profit that the men take. They would probably have to pay to play like my kids do. They are enthusiastic regional league footy players but it costs us money for them to play.

  9. @Tim N

    If so I was being generous (I also forgot to mention that you can have a cup of tea while you wait for the chasers to get to the catcher – they could ask Tetley Tea for sponsorship, it’s a perfect fit)).

    It’s about Colts level. England women would be all out of subs after five minutes playing your average club thirds. They might give the vets a run for their money until scrum time, at which point the game would be abandoned.

    If Jeanette had been born with testicles she wouldn’t have been a club runner, because she is ponderous by comparison with men.

    We’d never have heard of her. I’m more interested in why men who run a 12 second 100m don’t get Guardian columns to complain that Usain Bolt earns more dosh than they do.

    I find it sad that the Guardian can publish shite like this, based purely on a juvenile whinge about ‘fairness’. Toddlers can think better.

  10. I can understand why football and rugby are single sex but why cricket? Why can’t women play cricket with men?
    However
    @Christie Malry
    I do like your idea.

  11. No, womens’ tennis is not nearly as popular as mens’. Away from the grand slams the ATP does not share events with the WTA and does.not therefore share it’s prize money. The womens’ game can delude itself that it is not stealing from the mens’ at the grand slams; away from them them the men can ignore them.

    BTW Nothing in sport is better than watching Sharapova v Ivanovic; personal opinion.

  12. For many pros I thought the lottery is the prime source of income. Not so much the bums on seats and eyes on screens but can you get on a podium once every 2 years.

  13. Why hasn’t anyone held up these governing bodies by the balls (pun intended).

    Pun? What pun? Where?

    I hope she wasn’t paid as much for this jeremiad as a writer who knows what a pun is.

  14. Male sporting prowess is a way of demonstrating genetic fitness to fertile women seeking top quality sperm, hence WAG phenomenon. Female sporting prowess is not.

  15. Well quite. competative sport is never about equality of outcome, quite how professional sports women think otherwise is perplexing.

    Usually it’s the never played sport queer theory feminists I know who try and argue against me pointing out the massive difference in performances between men and women in most sports. Quite funny really non sports fans femsplaining to me about which they know nothing about, apparently even my generous statement that the Williams sisters would at best be ranked 100 on the men’s tour was ‘contestable’.

  16. With all this in mind, let’s not confuse these sports with anything approaching an open market. Sports tend to be governed by international bodies, which (in many cases) are hideously corrupt (IOC, FIFA, FIDE…). It’s true that professional men’s football is of a far higher standard than women’s football, but this hardly needs to be the only contributing factor as to why women’s football is so much less financially valuable. If women are driven off from playing football by a culture within the sport which is sexist or perceived as sexist (“[If women footballers want to be watched] they should wear tighter shorts” – S. Blatter) then this is going to reduce the level of competition to become a female football player which will in turn reduce the quality of play.

    I think there is a temptation to view feminism as a left-wing idea which demands state action, but this overlooks the many ways in which governments cause or at least promote sexism.

  17. Andrew,

    Even with that in mind, and speaking as someone who paid to see international women’s rugby, I highly doubt that much more people would pay and generate the salaries and prize money some professional sports women want and complain about.

    Certainly National sports bodies can be tight fisted and mean when it comes to successful women’s teams, it took a long time for the RFU and ECB (both rich bodies who are more than making money or just focusing on Men’s seniors) to decide to pay their female internationals a salary so they could go full time (something I supported to boot) but only after both teams had slayed the rest of the world and brought home a world cup.

    Now with central contracts, albeit modest, in place we hopefully will see more participation and a raising of standards and perhaps interest in the England women’s and Rugby teams, something that does/did need to be given a non-market related leg up by their bodies. But even still Premier League standard cricketers, which is the standard for most of the England Women’s cricket team, dont get paid much or at all, so I cannot see how women’s cricket would attract the same interest or willing ticket buyers as the Mens.

  18. @David

    ‘I can understand why football and rugby are single sex but why cricket? Why can’t women play cricket with men?’

    I assume you have never played, or perhaps even watched, cricket.

    At the top level, male quick bowlers are delivering a very hard object at speeds of approaching 100mph. If it hits a male forearm it can snap it in two. If it hits a male skull, it can kill or (even in the helmet era) end careers (ask Andy Lloyd). Female forearms and skulls are considerably easier to break. It would be carnage for the batters.

    But let’s assume they live. What about runs? Leaving aside hand-eye co-ordination and reaction times, strength: big bats score big runs, and women are less likely to be able to move a big bat through the air quick enough to hit the ball with the timing required to pierce the field at any major ground (or to be honest, most minor ones). Playing against women, where the ball arrives much more slowly, they can do it – against Dale Steyn, not a fucking hope.

    OK, but what about bowling?

    Hmmm.

    A man who bowls at (say) 82mph needs something extra – movement in the air, or off the pitch, to defeat a good batsman. A man who bowls at 75mph even with the above might as well give up and go home.

    The quickest female bowler in the world hits 75mph on a good day, with a following wind.

    Not to mention, the best quick bowlers (and the best slow bowlers) tend to be well over 6ft tall, which aids the bounce which helps to defeat batsmen. Not always – Malcolm Marshall was small. But he bowled at 95mph so the ball bounced into your face off a length (ask Andy Lloyd, again).

    OK, so they can bowl spin, right? Well the margins for error are less and let’s not forget that England hasn’t produced a consistently world class male spinner (consistent through a Test career) in my lifetime.

    But women are at another significant disadvantage here – hand-size. The best spinners have massive, and very strong, hands, the better to impart revolutions to the ball.

    Fielding – just watch the game and marvel at the differences in speed and agility between the best males and the best females.

    Men and women are so far apart in cricket that it’s like two different sports.

    It’s not quite as big as the gap between the sexes in more physical sports, but cricket is still plenty physical; I’d say England women would lose to a decent league side.

  19. Andrew Pearson,

    “If women are driven off from playing football by a culture within the sport which is sexist or perceived as sexist (“[If women footballers want to be watched] they should wear tighter shorts” – S. Blatter) then this is going to reduce the level of competition to become a female football player which will in turn reduce the quality of play.”

    What’s sexist about what Blatter said? All he’s done is told an uncomfortable truth based on the reality of human beings, that men are stronger and faster than women, so what else are you going to compete on? And it’s what all sorts of sports know but don’t say, like badminton trying to introduce a skirts/dresses rule.

    No-one’s saying women can’t play football for the sport, but if you want to get a crowd, you aren’t going to do it through playing 3rd rate sport, which is what women’s football is. I’ve seen a couple of international matches and one of the teams was like watching a sunday league game, the other was like watching a team in the 4th division.

  20. I don’t buy the argument that women’s sports are doomed to lower skills levels. As they professionalise and there are better development pathways and more time for practice, the level of skills and tactics ought to increase massively from when it was amateur. The level of physical performance in terms of speed and strength will hit a wall though and in some sports that matters and might reduce the spectacle commercially.

    In some cases it doesn’t matter that much so long as a certain measure of strength is attainable, hence the presence of women racing drivers at a high level in mixed sex competition.

    In other cases physical limitations do matter, and as this changes timings and tactics, the women’s sport ends up being played to a different pattern and rhythm to the men’s game. As Tim says, two different sports. Women’s tennis is visibly a different game to the men’s one – if they fuzzed out the players on TV you’d soon realise which sex was playing. But not from any embarrassing lack of skills, technique or strategy among women players. It is still a high level sport and still commercial.

    For a sport like rugby league where the physicality is a vital part of the spectacle and the crowd hunger for a big hit, it is hard to imagine the women’s game being commercially viable even if ball handling skills or players’ vision and tactical insight were on a par with the men.

  21. “I can understand why football and rugby are single sex but why cricket? Why can’t women play cricket with men?”

    Because they’d get absolutely creamed. If you compare the England Ladies cricket team to the professional mens game they aren’t even in the same town, let alone ground. Mitchell Johnson bowls at 90mph+, the fastest bowlers ever in the womens game bowl low 70s. I’ve faced bowlers that quick in my humble cricketing career, and survived. No-one is offering me a pro contract and the chance to appear on TV. I could pick a team of men I know personally who would walk into the England Ladies team on pure ability. But they have dicks so they don’t qualify.

    The continued existence of female professional sports is proof (if it were even needed) that feminism was nothing to do with equality between the sexes, and everything to do with gaining extra advantages in areas that they were previously disadvantaged, while hanging on to advantages the areas where they were already better off. In an equal world there would be no gender specific professional sport, just one competition open to all.

  22. @MBE

    ‘I don’t buy the argument that women’s sports are doomed to lower skills levels.’

    Whether you buy it or not, it seems to be true.

    The question here is not whether women can play sport, and play it to a certain standard – it’s whether they should be paid what men are paid.

    That raises a further question – why are men paid what they are paid?

    The answer to the second question seems to be that they are paid what they are paid broadly because people enjoy watching them compete with each other.

    Why do they enjoy watching them? Because they are capable of physical feats far beyond what the watchers themselves can achieve, and there’s an element of unpredictability when Israel Dagg catches a high ball and starts trying to run it back past Manu Tuilagi.

    There will never be any element of unpredictability if Sharon Dagg tries it, and thus is it boring.

    (It’s also boring, to me, if Sharon Dagg tries to run past Kylie Tuilagi, because they are slow and unphysical. Some people will pay to watch it, but they are in the minority and they will pay a lot less.)

    Women simply cannot and never will be able to achieve such physical excellence – the best women will never compete against the best men, and where the best women play the best women it’s generally not very gripping. (As when average men play each other.)

    It’s not because of cultural reasons, or lack of encouragement, or sexism. It’s because they are women.

    Women are better than men at some things, men are better than women at some things – it’s so obvious as to not need saying, and yet some people apparently must continually live in a state of confected rage about it.

    it’s weird, is what it is.

  23. Well the margins for error are less and let’s not forget that England hasn’t produced a consistently world class male spinner (consistent through a Test career) in my lifetime.

    Graeme Swann must have gotten awfully close. I’d call him a world class spinner, and his career was long enough.

  24. @Jim

    ‘I could pick a team of men I know personally who would walk into the England Ladies team on pure ability. But they have dicks so they don’t qualify. ‘

    Moi aussi.

    And actually, I wonder if some humorist will take the ECB to court on some human rights grounds on the basis that he is barred from untold riches (OK, five hundred quid a week) only by possession of testicles.

    Before Paul B.oring pops up to point out that sport is exempt, don’t – it’s a joke Paul.

  25. “I don’t buy the argument that women’s sports are doomed to lower skills levels. As they professionalise and there are better development pathways and more time for practice, the level of skills and tactics ought to increase massively from when it was amateur. The level of physical performance in terms of speed and strength will hit a wall though and in some sports that matters and might reduce the spectacle commercially.”

    Skills are not somehow divorced from physical strength. Thats the whole basis of most team sports (and plenty of others, if not all) who has the best combination of skills AND speed/strength. Its not just who can dribble the ball nicely, but who can do it while running the fastest with hulking big defenders harrying you. The whole point of watching a professional sport (and what makes it commercially viable) is that you watch and think ‘Wow, thats brilliant, I wish I could do that!’ not ‘Actually if I was on the park I could do as good, if not better’, which is my reaction to watching womens cricket.

  26. @Tim N

    Re Swanny, exactly who I had in mind when I caveated myself with ‘consistent through a career’!

    He was the best we’ve had for a while, but his early stats were shocking.

  27. He was the best we’ve had for a while, but his early stats were shocking.

    Yeah, but isn’t that the case with all spinners? I know Warne got off to a rocky start, but came good quickly. Not sure about Muli, but I know Saeed Ajmal is a lot older than I thought he was because it took him time to start getting the success. I think spinning is very much an art you need to mature into (when was the last time we saw a world-class young spinner, anywhere?), contrasted with fast bowling where 20 year old quicks can burst onto the scene (before wrecking their backs permanently).

    Incidentally: heh.

  28. As with all other physical sports so in UFC/MMA. It takes guts to step up and fight even in the –relatively–safe sports arena so credit to all the fighters, women as well as men. However the best women can only match the performance of middling male fighters. Nobody without a personal stake in watching would pay good money to see mediocre fights.

  29. Jim and Interested

    I think where the physicality is a big part of what people pay to watch, and that’s going to happen in lots of team sports, women’s sport is not going to be commercially successful.

    But it seems daft to me to claim that women can’t play highly skilled sports. They can, and in sports where they’ve had a long time to play at a professional standard, they do play with a high skill level. In sports like motor racing where strength is less of a stumbling block there are women skillful enough to compete with men. Limitations in speed and strength may mean that the women’s code of other sports follows different dynamics and strategy, and so the skill set they exhibit is different, but so long as people will pay to watch that skill set then there is a commercial product. Women’s golf and women’s tennis seem to find enough of a following to support sizeable professional circuits.

    It seems inevitable that skill levels at rugby, cricket and football will improve as women professionalise. They will still not be as fast, the ball will still not travel as far, and the game will not just look like even a slowed down version of the men’s game. It will be a different sport and it may attract a different audience. And less money, crucially. But there’s no reason it has to be low skill.

  30. It has been argued that women’s sport isn’t as businesslike as men’s, that it doesn’t generate enough interest to justify equality on the pay scale. But this is because they refuse to give women’s sport the same platform.

    She’s getting causation the wrong way round.

    Football is perhaps the best example. The reason men’s football is given saturation media coverage and women’s football is not is because there’s relatively little interest in women’s football.

    It’s not because broadcasters hate ratings. It doesn’t even matter how good or bad the women’s game is – it matters what sells Sky TV subscriptions and season tickets and replica jerseys and tie-in merchandise.

    That’s not “fair”, but life isn’t fair. It’s not fair that women live longer than men. It’s not fair that men don’t feel the pain of childbirth. It’s not fair that Russell Brand had a crack at Katy Perry before me. Such is life.

    The BBC has been trying to drum up interest in the women’s game for years. It hasn’t made much of an impact.

    shouldn’t the sports industry be an agent for change?

    Why should it?

    But it will not be enough until all sportswomen receive pay parity. Women put in the same amount of hours, sweat and arguably more sacrifice when taking part in elite sport; pay packets, rewards and recognition should reflect that.

    Ah, the labour theory of value.

    Male porn stars famously earn a lot less than female porn stars do. But they put in the same amount of sweat, hours and arguably more effort since maintaining an erection on camera is more difficult than faking an orgasm.

    Won’t somebody think of the Dirk Digglers?

  31. Women are not as good as men at sport?
    What a revelation!
    Now show me the sport, wasn’t developed to test one male’s male abilities against another male’s male abilities. It’s like pointing out tracked vehicles aren’t competitive in F1. They would be if circuits were laid out in mud. Develop a sport where a female’s female advantages are the deciding factor & women would be superior & men might be complaining about missing out on the big money. (But probably not)
    Personally, I’m a big fan of pole dancing.

  32. The difference between the wage bills of the Arsenal men’s and women’s teams is no.more discriminatory than. The difference between the Arsenal and, say, the Lille teams.

  33. @MyBurningEars “In some cases it doesn’t matter that much so long as a certain measure of strength is attainable”

    Not much physical strength needed to play chess or snooker.

  34. MyBurningEars – I think the ultimate reason why women’s sport will never attract the same attention and riches as men’s sport is because we are sexually dimorphic animals who climbed to the top of the food chain by evolving into hunter/gatherers.

    Skill isn’t really the issue, though it’s often used as a rationalisation. At the top end of the women’s sports scale, the Williams sisters are fantastic athletes, and very rich and successful. But even at their elevated level of prominence and success, fewer people want to see them or buy products endorsed by them than they do Nadal, Federer or Murray.

    And that’s in tennis. The problem women face in team sports, which are a metaphor for hunting and war, is even greater.

    The fact is, men like to watch pretty, feminine girls being pretty and feminine. They also like to see their adopted tribe of sportsman-warriors represented by fit, skilful, aggressive men.

    Women have similar tastes. They like to watch masculine men doing manly things. They don’t want to see a bunch of muscular girls being masculine.

    The female rugby player or the lady footballer offends our mammalian instincts. We rationalise it by observing that they aren’t very good – and they’re not – but that’s not the deeper reason why we don’t want to watch them.

    Ms Kwakye’s struggle isn’t against a conspiracy of broadcasters to deny female sports a platform. Her struggle is against human nature.

  35. @MBE

    I do take your point, I just maintain (perhaps for reasons of old fashioned sexism, but I think because of observation) that women just are not as skilful at most physical activities as men are.

    I’m not sure that it’s true that motor racing doesn’t need strength – I don’t follow it, but I believe it takes some physicality to wrestle with a F1 car and associated G forces for 90 mins or whatever?

    Women tend to be lighter, weight is a major penalty in motorsport, there’s millions shading into billions of dollars at stake, we know there are women test drivers – so why do none of the big teams employ front line women drivers? It just cannot be sexism, these people are all about results.

    Ditto horseracing. I live in a very horsey part of the world, and used to ride myself as a youngster/young man. I rode mainly to meet girls, because 90% of people who ride are girls. Yet what percentage of top jockeys are women?

    I think, perhaps crucially, women just don’t want to do it. There’s (maybe) no reason why a woman couldn’t beat Phil Taylor at darts, but they just CBA to stand at the oche for six hours a day for fifteen years to get there.

    And I don’t blame them. They have better things to do, as my wife would put it.

    (Here I make my standard point – I love women, largely prefer their company to that of men [certainly on a night out, much better chat], and am the father of two young daughters whom I would happily ship round to sports events as and when they asked. They just prefer drama and shopping.)

  36. “Develop a sport where a female’s female advantages are the deciding factor & women would be superior & men might be complaining about missing out on the big money. ”

    Gymnastics arguable does that, the women’s events seem to place much more emphasis on grace and flexibility and less on upper body strength than the men’s. Plus few men would get through basic training on the beam long enough to master it.

  37. @Ross – is there big money in gymnastics? (Genuine question, I have no idea, though I doubt it?)

  38. @Steve

    ‘The female rugby player or the lady footballer offends our mammalian instincts.’

    Speak for yourself, I’m a lizard.

  39. I do wonder why some sports have separate competitions for men and women. Why does there need to be a separate competition for curling or snooker? Showjumping just sticks men and women together.

  40. Interested – lounge or shapeshifting reptilian overlord type?

    The Stigler – it’s to give women a chance to compete. If we didn’t have women’s golf, there wouldn’t be many women professional golfers.

  41. @Tim N

    ‘Yeah, but isn’t that the case with all spinners? I know Warne got off to a rocky start, but came good quickly. Not sure about Muli, but I know Saeed Ajmal is a lot older than I thought he was because it took him time to start getting the success. I think spinning is very much an art you need to mature into (when was the last time we saw a world-class young spinner, anywhere?)’

    It is true that spinners (like props) tend to get better with age, yep.

    I was being a bit careless re Swann, he had three seasons in his Test career when he approached world class – 2009 (ave 27.92), 2010 (25.96) and 2012 (29.93).

    You could fairly round those up to 28, 26 and 30.

    Is it fair to say 30 is the bare minimum average for ‘world class’ status? If so, he’s golden in 2009/10 and just squeaks in in 2012.

    His other three seasons he averaged 39.50, 34.22 and 34.09.

    Factor in some unknowables, such as that most judges agree he was helped by the evolution of the review system, and that in 2009/10 he was helped by Pakistan throwing matches (helping him to an average of 12.22 that summer) and, as I say, I don’t personally think you can say he was a consistently world class player.

    Still very good, but no Jim Laker (who finished with an average of 21-point-something and was a great).

  42. @Stigler

    ‘I do wonder why some sports have separate competitions for men and women. Why does there need to be a separate competition for curling or snooker? Showjumping just sticks men and women together.’

    In racing, there’s often gender separation between the horses!

  43. Steve,

    “The Stigler – it’s to give women a chance to compete. If we didn’t have women’s golf, there wouldn’t be many women professional golfers.”

    I understand why golf is separated – women don’t have the swing of men. But curling and snooker aren’t about physical strength.

  44. ” is there big money in gymnastics?”

    I don’t know, but it’s a moderately high profile sport- not at football or tennis’s level but more so than archery or judo.

  45. Judging from the viewing figures, women’s beach volleyball is much more skillful than the men’s version, even allowing for the differences in height.

  46. Interested – yes motor sport requires physical strength. But as I understand it, you only need to get to a threshold value and you don’t gain much advantage from going far beyond, which is unusual but not unique in sports. To some extent show jumping might sit in the same boat? Fat slobs couldn’t do it. But a fit woman can do the physical aspect just as well as a fit man.

  47. Interested,

    “@Ross – is there big money in gymnastics? (Genuine question, I have no idea, though I doubt it?)”

    Not really. Gymnastics suffers from the same problem as athletics that it’s run by rule-obsessed bureaucrats.

    Ice skating understands it’s more of a branch of showbusinesses. They have competitions, but there’s decent money in ice shows.

  48. Thought experiment twenty years in the future.

    Evil media mogul billionaire creates breakaway sports leagues to fill his internet channels with.

    Conventional rules on performance enhancing drugs and genetic manipulation are tossed aside. These will be the Superman Leagues. Everything is permitted, even encouraged.

    We are talking about the very top level of human performance. A football striker who can cover 100 metres in 9.5 seconds. A fast bowler consistently above 100 mph. The speed and strength are unrivalled in the conventional men’s leagues but also start to affect how the Supermen Leagues are played. Games have new rhythms and patterns, and begin to develop tactics and skills that best exploit the new dynamics.

    The conventional leagues look like a whole different sport. Slower and stodgier, but also less impressive tactically (there is probably equal tactical depth, but tactics to stop faster and stronger opponents are arguably more interesting) and with a skill set on display that suits a weaker and lower tempo gameplay.

    Does everyone switch over to the Superman Leagues, where even the simplest passages of play fit firmly into the “no way could I or any of my friends do that, wow” category of spectacle? Or would there still be space for “second best” conventional leagues, where professional and talented athletes are working at the highest physical standard their bodies alone allow them to achieve?

    Not quite a direct analogy but covers similar grounds. Would be interesting to know what the sportier crowd on here would prefer to watch.

  49. Male sportsmen tend to get paid far more than female. This is because of a vast world-wide male conspiracy that includes women (who are, after all potential spectators as well) who have probably been brainwashed by men. something must be done about it.

    Female and male pop stars earn according to their popularity. Female fashion models tend to be paid far more than male. That’s market forces.

  50. @MBE

    ‘Conventional rules on performance enhancing drugs and genetic manipulation are tossed aside. These will be the Superman Leagues. Everything is permitted, even encouraged.’

    Interesting idea, and one I’ve had myself – given that we can’t know who’s clean, why not let them take what they like and see how quick those buggers can run.

    But I think two things. First, that it would never really take off, too much anti pressure, and second, that if everyone’s on roids the better physical specimens will still win (when speed or strength are key). You can make a woman strionger than an average man if she is genetically predisposed and she trains like mad while pumped full of steroids and artificial hormones. But she’ll never be stronger than a man who trains like mad while pumped full of steroids and artificial hormones.

  51. “Employers pay what they have to pay to attract and retain people who can do what they want done.” – GC

    Jeanette Kwakye fails to observe that the money paid in her sport was adequate to get her to participate. There is no reason for the organizers to pay more.

    . . . .

    My own story added to what others have noted:

    In 1995, I went to the LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. While the skill level of the players was amazing, it was self evident that the amateur, male, club champion of any good sized U.S. golf club would stomp them.

    Top male players hit their driver ~35 yards farther than top female players. Top of PGA vs top of LPGA is 48 yards (!). Ask any golfer you know if 35 yards off the tee is significant. It’s not just significant, it’s overwhelming.

  52. @MBE: the whole skill thing is a sideshow anyway. There are professional sports today that are pretty much purely skill based, namely darts and snooker. They don’t require great physical strength, other than lifting pints of lager. And I’m sure female contestants could drink pinot grigio instead anyway. Both provide decent living for the top flight competitors. Why are there no women that can compete with the likes of Phil Taylor and Ronnie O’Sullivan?

    I would argue that the mono-vision required to perfect a skill as practically useless as snooker or darts is a male trait. It takes a certain sort of semi-autistic mentality to focus on one stupid little thing to the exclusion of all others, until you have mastered it. And that mono-vision is a male trait due the male distribution of virtually all human characteristics being long tail – ie more at both the bottom and the top, when compared to the women.

    Thus while physically speaking you could have Philippa Taylor and Veronica O’Sullivan, mentally its just not going to happen. Women just don’t see the attraction of spending their entire lives concentrating on one pointless activity, and will never do it.

  53. I remember a game of mixed hockey with great affection. However skilfully a lassie might dribble past me, it didn’t matter; I could still overtake her and rob her.

  54. Interested,

    “Evil media mogul billionaire creates breakaway sports leagues to fill his internet channels with.

    Conventional rules on performance enhancing drugs and genetic manipulation are tossed aside. These will be the Superman Leagues. Everything is permitted, even encouraged.”

    I’m not sure it’d make much difference, or even happen. The richest sports on earth are those that combine physical ability and skill: football, cricket, rugby, baseball, american football, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, F1 and golf. And for those, roiding doesn’t happen so much because it’s the skill that really wins it.

  55. @TS

    Actually it was MyBurningEars who posited the thought experiment, like you I said it would never happen.

    But it’s an interesting paradox. The greater the rewards the more incentive to use steroids – but the more you lose if you get caught.

    The level of roiding would surely be far higher in all those sports if the sanctions were less severe; nevertheless it still goes on.

    I should say, I’m mostly talking about people who use steroids to recover from injury quicker and so train more, rather than people who use them purely to bulk up a la nightclub bouncers.

  56. As I have said before, when Marion Jones, drugs and all, won a gold for the 100 and another for the 200 at the Olympics she ran fast enough to place fourth among New Jersey High School boys. Somehow I don’t think the three New Jersey boys who were faster than her got her endorsements. But she should have got their prize money.

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