There’s a simple answer to this

And how about those women, eh? Expecting to be “handed” equal prize money, just because they won the same tennis tournament!

Have them actually play in the same tournament and then see what the distribution of prize money is.

28 thoughts on “There’s a simple answer to this”

  1. I always reckoned the “come play in the men’s tournament” argument was trite and silly.

    Seems to me a far better retort is “go make your own commercial product – and if it succeeds you’ll reap the rewards.”

    Leaving aside the Grand Slam tournaments where prize money is equalised (arguably, artificially, at any rate not necessarily in strict proportion to revenue generated) there is a very viable women’s professional tour which a lot of players do very well out of. But if they don’t, on average, do as well as the men, that says something about the commercial appeal of their product.

    And a hundred times the above for women’s football.

  2. @MBE thing is, she’s responding to an argument that money is being taken from the men’s pool of cash to five to the women, and is using the phrase “they won the same tennis tournament!”

    I can’t actually understand how the Guardian allowed that sentence to be published.


  3. Essentially, the reason we have separate women’s sports is because some sports need dividing into different physical categories to provide an interesting contest. Sometimes such separation takes a different form – there is distinct Paralympic showjumping but no need for a male female split. We don’t have separate heavyweight and flyweight football teams but we do split by weight in boxing and martial arts.

    The argument “male and female sportspeople should be paid the same” seems to rely on “the top performers within their physical category should be paid the same” as its premise.

    The consequences of this seem absurd even if there is something attractive about the principle. Aside from the disparity between men and women footballers, the national blind football teams (both sexes) should be paid as much as the Premier League stars. The Olympic wheelchair basketball elite should be paid as much as the NBA players. There are very many male and female disability classes at the Paralympic Games plus even more at the Transplant Games, Deaf Games and so on. Each of their top sprinters should make as much as Usain Bolt.

    A bantamweight boxer should automatically fight for the same reward as a heavyweight. But in boxing everyone accepts that fighters at any weight fight for whatever they can bring to the table. Fair or unfair that seems the only sensible and commercial way to do it. If sportspeople of any category want to make some money, they need to bring in some revenue.

  4. Nearly everything is being feminised these days. The law and medicine, for example. The internet is a particularly striking example: military > nerds > porn > shopping > gossip.

    I’m not complaining. But I object to being called sexist just because I prefer watching the All Blacks to the Silver Ferns.

  5. Hadley Freeman is a fashion writer. Shouldn’t she be complaining that superstar female models, like Giselle & Kate Moss, earn £10m+ per year whereas their equally hard-working male contemporaries earn a mere fraction of that.

  6. @Shinsei ah that is in itself an artefact of the wicked system of patriarchalism which objectifies some women and elevates them over others. Those sisters are just robbing the patriarchy and giving to other sisters who make skinny latte and hair extensions – think of them as vajazzled Robin Hoods.

  7. This low-hanging fruit of a column is instructive, on several levels


    But then, this same columnist once described women’s tennis as having “a soft-porn dimension”, featuring “Amazonian goddesses, with their lithe and assertive athleticism” straight out of “adolescent (and non-adolescent) male fantasy”. It must be hard remembering women’s names when lost in “(non-adolescent) male fantasy”

    How dare he! Female tennis stars hate being sex objects!

    More usefully, he lines up all the tired arguments against pay equality in sport so they can be neatly knocked down.

    Cool. Let’s do this thing!

    For example, critics – from the above columnist to grammatically challenged men on social media – love to cite the fact that women play fewer sets in the grand slams as the reason they shouldn’t get equal prize money (which they only finally achieved in 2007, mind). Now, leaving aside the fact that female players have repeatedly asked to play five sets only for officials to reject their request, I was unaware that athletes were paid by the hour. Has anyone told Usain Bolt that he should be awarded 1% of what Mo Farah makes on the track? No, because athletes are paid not by the clock, but what broadcasters and sponsors think they are worth.

    This… uh… isn’t helping her argument. For if broadcasters and sponsors pay women what they think they’re worth, and said women are presumably happy enough with the pay to do continue playing their sport… then the broadcasters and sponsors have calculated it correctly, no?

    No one – seriously, NO ONE – is suggesting that female footballers should be paid the same as male Premier League players, although the disparity should not be so big.

    How much should the disparity be then? She doesn’t say.

    Let’s look at what’s behind sport’s famously unsexist market forces. Men’s team sports attract media coverage, which brings public interest, which in turn leads to sponsorship deals, which lead to more media coverage.

    Yes. But only if those sports are popular. Nobody’s trying to ply the Camanachd Cup with millions of pounds in sponsorship money. Sky Sports doesn’t run wall to wall coverage of the NEMLA Lacrosse Premiership. The BBC sports folks are proving stubbornly resistant to the charms of Jai-Alai.

    For women’s team sports it is the inverse: a vicious circle of no media coverage means no public interest means no sponsorship deals, means no media coverage. This is not – if you’ll forgive a sporting metaphor here – a level playing field. The way to level it is to accord female athletes more media coverage and more financial rewards, which will in turn foster public interest. You know, like what happened with men’s football.

    Eh, no.

    Men’s football was already a mass spectator sport long before media coverage became important to the game’s financial success. 149,415 people turned up to watch Scotland v England at Hampden in 1937 – and 20,000 more were turned away at the turnstiles. 136,505 piled in to the same stadium in 1970 to watch Celtic play Leeds United.

    Attendances in these post-Taylor Report, post-TV saturation coverage, post-season ticket price inflation days are a lot lower, but the average attendance last season in the English Premier League was still between 20,000 (Swansea), and 75,000 (Man Utd).

    Attendance figures for the women’s game are harder to come by, but if you look at the pictures in the match reports, it looks like a lot of their fans turn up dressed as empty seats.

    This suggests to me, and no doubt to the broadcasters, that there isn’t a huge untapped demand for televising women’s football, and showering their sport with money.

    When female athletes are paid unequally – or nothing – it compounds the very clear message that they are seen as lesser: less interesting, less important, less real

    “Less real” ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Tell it to the poor buggers in the lower divisions of the men’s game who work as bricklayers or plasterers or doctors during the week and pick up beer money playing football at weekends.

    Her argument here seems to be “give us money, or we’ll cry!” I’m sure Rupert Murdoch will be wiping a tear from his eye and dusting off his cheque book as he reads his Guardian this morning.

    On Thursday Frank Warren wrote in the Independent that women shouldn’t box.

    Imagine being such a misogynist that you believe women shouldn’t beat the shit out of each other for the entertainment of men. What a bastard.

    On Tuesday an FA official was suspended for telling a female referee that “Your place is in the kitchen”. But remember! Sexism is not the root problem here.

    Sexism is such a terrible problem in football that a man was subjected to a serious disciplinary punishment for making a female referee feel bad. Male referees, by contrast, only have to deal with being called cunts and the like, threatened with violence, and maybe have a brick chucked through their window by an aggrieved fan. What a horrible, sexist world we live in.

    When female athletes win less money in the same competitions, it’s not because of sexism – it’s because they’re women and therefore deemed less interesting from the start.

    Exactly. It’s because they’re less interesting – to the Sky-TV-subscription-buying, season-ticket-purchasing, merchandise-consuming public, and therefore to broadcasters. Just like the fellas playing for Stalybridge Celtic, or the scary-looking Highland blokes who play shinty.

    Still, at least Serena Williams manages to scrape by.

  8. @BIF

    “I object to being called sexist just because I prefer watching the All Blacks to the Silver Ferns.”

    I feel you, but still I find not giving a flying fuck what they call me is a better approach.

  9. MBE,

    “I always reckoned the “come play in the men’s tournament” argument was trite and silly.”

    The point of it is that we aren’t paying female sports people less because they’re women, we’re paying them less because they aren’t at the same standard. But these dim feminists can’t seem to grasp that.

  10. I’m amazed that none of those grauniad writers calling for equal prizes for sportswomen are demanding that white sprinters get the same money as black.

    One might possibly think that there is an ulterior motive, and that sport is just being used as a proxy. But that would be ludicrous!

  11. @BIF he he

    @ Rob

    Not only unpaid. I suspect you actually have *to pay* match fees?

    The problem with all this stuff is it starts off being unobjectionable and then gets out of hand when the nut jobs get involved.

    I know very little about football, but even I have heard of Arsenal ladies. I suspect they were started mostly to get girls interested in the sport and thus buying shirts etc.

    And if they have achieved that, measurably, I’ve no problem with them getting some of the bunce, even though they are really selling the men’s team.

    But no one meant it to be taken seriously, for fuck’s sake.

  12. Hadley Freeman has entered Twitter to “engage” with the criticisms of her column.

    Her comment:

    “Wahhhhhh!!!! It’s my football! Girls are ugly and stupid and have cooties!!!! Wahhhhh! Mummy, the mean lady journalist is being mean!!!!”

  13. It’s very sad that this is the level of debate in the Guardian. That Twitter exchange is bizarre.

    I note also that Russell “Revolution” Brand is threatening Suzanne Moore with legal action for her review of his ‘book’. How very anarchic!

  14. Interested:

    Yes, annual membership, weekly match fees and the odd contribution to keep the club going.

    Even less real than I thought!

  15. I agree with Steve’s long comment above. As a Bayern fan, I find it intensely frustrating that Fox Sports’ CL and Europa League coverage here in the States is the same UK teams every single match day. When Bayern played the early kickoff in Russia before the rest of the CL matches, it was shunted to a higher-tier channel. But when Manchester City played there, you better believe it was on the regular-tier sports channel.

    And regarding the treatment of referees, Chelsea and Mourinho should have been expelled from the FA for what they did to Anders Frisk. If we can ban teams for fans’ racist behavior, we can do it for threatening referees.

  16. Shinsei – equality in sport is an issue she’s so committed to that she had precisely zero minutes to spend defending her argument before moving on to something else.

    “ANYWAY as much as I wish I cd spend my Saturday engaging with crying men, I have to write another piece about how women shd rule the world”

  17. She thinks it’s the *men* that are doing the crying here? REALLY?

    I liked the comments on the article asking when is the last time she put her hand in her pocket to support women’s sport. I’m guessing she’s not answered.

    I’ve sent some hefty cash the way of women’s sports recently… because the only way to secure good seats for men’s matches at a tennis slam seems to be to buy a package which includes ladies sessions.

  18. Stigler – no, we don’t pay the women less because they’re worse. Since in some sports women earn as much as, or more than, men – even though they’d be beaten by men physically. They get paid well if the woman’s sport is a good commercial product, they get paid less in other sports because the women’s version of that sport is less commercially viable.

    I think the biggest strength of the “well why not play in this competition and see how far you get” riposte is that it demonstrates a separate category is required. That applies to women’s sports, blind sports, wheelchair sports, whatever. But it would fail, as we rightly desire it to, if applied to the question “how come black guys playing in the Negro Leagues don’t get paid what white guys playing in the regular (but still segregated) leagues do?” On the other hand it doesn’t establish whether people in the separated category, if its existence is indeed justified, should make as much money, or less, or even maybe more (I’m looking at you, beach volleyball).

  19. @ MBE
    In Amateur Boxing the Bantamweight *does* fight for a trophy identical to the Heavyweight’s. In pro boxing, the fighters get paid what their manager can squeeze out of the promoter. I a few cases the defending Champion got paid less than the Challenger.
    That is the difference between Amateur and Professional sport.
    In amateur sport I support the concept of equal trophies/prizes – reward for effort, recognition of achievement or however you phrase it, unequal prizes are unfair and can cause grossly offend. I can recall a few occasions when I heard people complain.
    Anecdata Alert.
    The ladies at my jogging club (which had some good lasses – one of them often/usually beat me and all the guys her own age) organised a complaint, which I supported, when a local 10k offered lower prizes for 1st lady than 1st man: the organiser resigned because he thought he was being fair since more men than women entered – which he failed to see was not the point in Amateur sport. A few (OK over a dozen) years ago my running club’s top distance runner was *seriously* annoyed because he was not recognised as County Champion or even County Veteran Champion but only “first over-50” despite beating everyone else from the county by minutes (or,in some cases, by hours) in the championship marathon that we shared with a neighbouring county. The County AAA subsequently changed the rules.
    Other running anecdata less significant, but I can remember when the biggest ticket-sales were people coming to watch the welterweight (who was good), with the second-biggest those who wanted to watch the bantam (who, more often than not, had to box against featherweights).

  20. MBE,

    “Stigler – no, we don’t pay the women less because they’re worse. Since in some sports women earn as much as, or more than, men – even though they’d be beaten by men physically. They get paid well if the woman’s sport is a good commercial product, they get paid less in other sports because the women’s version of that sport is less commercially viable.”

    Yes, fair point. I just think some people assume that men have an innate hatred of women playing sport, rather than the fact that it’s not very good. I’ve seen women’s football, and while there’s some good skills, it’s just not as exciting without the same pace as the men.

    Tennis is one of the sports with parity, and part of that is that it’s a game that suits certain aspects of women.

  21. Isn’t this just value of labour fallacy applied to sport? That people should be rewarded acording to effort, not result?

  22. There are popular televised events where men and women compete equally against each other under the same rules. The people watching it and the event sponsors don’t care if the winner is a man or a woman, only that the most skilled players rise to the top. And there is no discrimination as the prize money is paid out to the winner regardless.

    Perhaps Hadley Freeman should speak to her fellow columnist Victoria Coren about it? After all, she is quite good at it:

  23. Pingback: Making handicapped sports more normal (and renumerative) | An Amoral Proposal

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